The threat of Sachin Tendulkar taking the game away by the scruff looms as the biggest hurdle between defending champions Deccan Chargers and a victory in their Indian Premier League tie against Mumbai Indians at the D Y Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai tomorrow.
Tendulkar, who created history by making a double hundred against South Africa in Gwalior ODI last month, has not let up in his run-scoring ways and stands tall for Mumbai Indians in their quest to clinch the coveted IPL crown after the disappointment of the first two seasons.
The champion batsman has been in sublime form and has literally led his team from the front with his superb poise at the crease, which is reflected in MI going into the tie atop the points table with eight points.
Tendulkar's masterly knocks of 63 off 32 balls with 10 fours floored Delhi Daredevils at the Ferozeshah Kotla.
His successive knocks of unbeaten 48-ball 71, embellished with 10 fours and 72 off 52 with a six and eight fours knocked out the challenge posed by Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings in MI's last two matches.
The manner in which he has shepherded the batsmen at the other end like Jharkhand youngster Saurabh Tiwary has been a good lesson for others to follow.
If Deccan Chargers, shell-shocked by the murderous assault yesterday by Yusuf Pathan in their match against Rajasthan Royals, have to get back their campaign on the track, it's imperative they stop Tendulkar at the earliest.
But it has not been only Tendulkar who has performed for Mumbai Indians whose lone defeat came against the Anil Kumble-led Royal Challengers Bangalore.
The long-haired Tiwary has given splendid support to his captain with two half-centuries and a couple of other good starts to his credit while Ambati Rayudu, who later injured his elbow and is again doubtful for tomorrow's match, also forged a good combination with Tiwary in helping the team's cause.
Left-handed Delhi Ranji player Shikhar Dhawan has filled up the big shoes vacated by out-of-form Sanath Jayasuriya admirably and was, in fact, allowed free rein by Tendulkar in their March 25 match against CSK during their stand of 92.
West Indians Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard, the costliest signing at the last players' auction, have shown only glimpses of their obvious talent but always look a big enough threat to the opposition.
The Mumbai bowling has been quite good with Harbhajan Singh being the pick in the middle overs.