Virender Sehwag was smashing the ball as he once used to, Gautam Gambhir's timing was perfect. As the Delhi duo rattled up 67 runs in the first five overs, the target of 191 set by New Zealand in the first Super Eights game at the Wanderers seemed within India's reach.
But, as is the case a little too often with the Indian team, it was not to be.
India's defeat silenced their supporters, who had egged on their men from the grass bank next to the dressing room, and from behind the team bench. All day the ground had resonated with their yells of Ganpati Bappa Morya, but their exit was marked by an almost funereal silence.
After another listless performance by the middle order and some innovative bowling changes by New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori, India could manage only 180 for nine in 20 overs, falling short by 10 runs.
The hunt for New Zealand's 190 was always going to be difficult, and the start was going to be crucial.
But the two Delhi men rose to the challenge — India could not have asked for a better start as Sehwag (40 off 17) and Gambhir (51 off 33) came out swinging. It was Sehwag who started the onslaught by hitting Mark Gillespie for a couple of boundaries and a six over mid-on in the second over.
In the next over, Gambhir slammed Shane Bond, one of the most feared pacemen in the world, for a six and three boundaries to put the Kiwis on the backfoot.
However, just when Sehwag was looking ominous, having hit six boundaries and two sixes, he hit a low full-toss from Jacob Oram straight to Scott Styris at mid-wicket.
Robin Uthappa, the star in Friday's win over Pakistan, went for a duck in the next over and India were never in the game thereafter.
But more than the batting collapse, it was the last five overs of the New Zealand innings that cost India the game. At the end of 15 overs, New Zealand were 112 for five, and it seemed that New Zealand would be restricted to under 170.
However, some senseless bowling in the death overs — and smart batting by Jacob Oram (35 off 15) and Craig McMillan (44 off 23), who added 73 runs off just 33 balls for the sixth wicket —helped New Zealand reach a really challenging total.
Yuvraj Singh (25 runs in 16th over), Ajit Agarkar (29 in all in 17th and 19th) and S Sreesanth (19 in 18th) gave away 73 in four before RP Singh ended the innings with just five in the last.
To add to India's woes, Dinesh Karthik dropped a straightforward chance at square-leg off Oram in the 17th over.
India now head to Durban, where they face England on Wednesday and South Africa on Thursday in must-win games if they are to reach the semifinals.