After the seventh over of the Kochi Tuskers innings, the score read 37 for 3. At the same stage, the Delhi Daredevils had been 36 for 3. But the Tuskers didn't have a certain Virender Sehwag.
On Saturday, the Daredevils skipper lashed his second fifty of this Indian Premier League (IPL) season — a masterly 80 — to guide his team to a 38-run victory.
It was by a whisker that S Sreesanth missed being the match winner against Deccan Chargers at the same ground three days ago. When he returned on Saturday against the Daredevils, the paceman cleaned up David Warner with his first ball.
Three deliveries later, he trapped Naman Ojha for nought. The home team were on the rampage and the modest 10,000 crowd roared like a capacity 60,000.
The home team apparently had the choice of picking from two wickets - one with a bit of grass and the other with hardly any. After the batting collapse against the Chargers in their last match, the second pitch was the obvious choice. But the shave and roll resulted in the odd ball keeping low.
In conditions where 130 would have been tough to chase, Sehwag's mastery pushed the Daredevils total to a formidable 157 for seven.
It was the kind of innings Sehwag has been desperate to play, but hadn't been able to, this season. Against the Tuskers he showed how destructive he can be if he stayed in the middle. Keeping his cool as wickets felt at the other end, Sehwag was content to gather runs in the first few overs. Once set, he cut loose with five massive sixes and another eight fours. Travis Birt (20 of 13) and Irfan Pathan (13 off 7) helped the Daredevils reach a healthy total in the end. On a pitch that behaved oddly, the Tuskers were left with a task on hand.
It can get very tough for bowlers if Brendon McCullum gets going. But the Kiwi seemed to have forgotten the difference between aggression and rashness.
After Michael Klinger departed for two, the opener would have been better anchoring. Instead, a wild charge against Irfan Pathan saw him bowled. After a slow start, Morne Morkel is finding his rhythm. He removed Klinger and then returned to pick two more wickets. Sehwag caught Mahela Jayawardene (18) in the 10th over and it was a procession from there. Ravindra Jadeja and Brad Hodge put up some resistance but the asking rate and pitch conditions proved too challenging.