Even those driving along the Marine Drive with car stereos on full blast would have heard shouts of “Sachin, Sachin” emanating from the Wankhede Stadium nearby on Wednesday evening.
With Mumbai IPL team captain Sachin Tendulkar, having recovered from groin trouble, playing his first Indian Premier League match, anything else would have been an aberration.
The wait gets longer
And the capacity stands groaned in dismay when Tendulkar called right at the toss and put the Chennai team in. The crowd's wait to watch their favourite player and explosive Sanath Jayasuriya bat together had just got longer by 20 overs. All along the years when Tendulkar and Jayasuriya kept rewriting one ODI record after the other, many bowlers had feared what it would be like to have these two batting together. And the two batsmen did not disappoint giving Mumbai an opening partnership of 82 runs during their successful chase of a target of 157.
Earlier, thanks to a 95-run stand for fifth-wicket between S. Badrinath and captain MS Dhoni had taken Chennai to 156. And Mumbai overhauled the target in 13.5 overs. With this win Mumbai have registered four wins in a row and now have eight points from seven ties. While Chennai have 12 from nine.
But what began as a tale of Tendulkar's debut in the league, after recovering from groin trouble, had to be rewritten as Jayasuriya serenaded the crowd with his innings in which he married power hitting to subtle shots from his stocky wrists. Jayasuriya scored 114 from 48 balls, which included 11 sixes and nine fours. He reached his century in the 14th over bowled by Chamara Kapugedera. He hit two sixes off the first two balls to reach his hundred in 45 balls and then hit another maximum and two fours to finish the match. In the lead up to the match, the focus had been on Tendulkar. The 35-year-old began cautiously. The first ball he faced, he dropped hands and let go a fast and a bouncy one from Manpreet Gony.
In the last ball of that over he pushed hard at a delivery outside off and a thick edge carried it to the third-man boundary. Tendulkar later slashed hard at a ball Albie Morkel bowled wide outside off and got a six over third man.
And soon Jayasuriya stole the thunder from his superstar opening partner with a deluge of sixes only he can hit and Chennai could do nothing much but watch in awe.
Jayasuriya hit a couple of short-arm jabs, which flew over deep mid-wicket and long on. He then singled out Gony, taking him out for three sixes. Tendulkar by this point was reduced to a bystander. Jayasuriya, not yet finished with his stomping of the bowling attack, then lifted Morkel in his trademark style over square-leg. And then cut the ball to the boundary. And during the maddening display of power-hitting, the crowd fell silent when Tendulkar was bowled. But Jayasuriya was still at the crease and writing on the wall for Chennai had already become clear.
Mumbai: Sachin Tendulkar (capt), Sanath Jayasuriya, Robin Uthappa, Dominic Thornley, Dwayne Bravo, Shaun Pollock, Abhishek Nayar, Yogesh Takawale, Dhawal Kulkarni, Rohan Raje, Ashish Nehra.
Chennai: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Stephen Fleming, S Vidyut, Suresh Raina, S Badrinath, Albie Morkel, Chamara Kapugedera, Muttiah Muralitharan, Manpreet Gony, Joginder Sharma, Laxmipathy Balaji.