Can the Delhi Daredevils win if Virender Sehwag fails to make a significant contribution? The vital question had remained unanswered for some time as the Daredevils' skipper had been scoring without fail in the last five games.
The answer finally came on Monday. Sehwag for once failed to make a match-winning contribution and with no Kevin Pietersen to absorb the shock and carry on, the Kolkata Knight Riders made the most of it by racing off to a comprehensive six-wicket victory.
The Daredevils' vulnerability got exposed the moment Sehwag and David Warner fell after giving a fine start and Mahela Jayawardene and Ross Taylor walked in.
While Jayawardene too didn't look in the best of touch, Ross Taylor in particular was woefully out of form, as he admitted a few days back. The big-hitting New Zealander struggled to put bat to the ball, and his inability to get going almost wasted the brisk start given by the openers.
Had it not been for some big hits by Irfan Pathan, Daredevils would have struggled to cross the 150-run mark. Perhaps, it's time Daredevils look beyond the Kiwi and made use of West Indies all-rounder Andre Russel, or the hard-hitting Aaron Finch.
Gautam Gambhir and Brendon McCullum looked in tearing hurry. The openers didn't take time to settle down, and raced to their fastest 50 this season, in five overs. Gambhir, in particular, looked very aggressive. McCullum too matched him stroke for stroke.
Making it count
While McCullum played a good hand, it was the performance of South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis that made the difference.
First he changed the course of the game by removing both Sehwag and Warner just when they were threatening to tear apart the KKR attack.
Then he made a vital contribution with the bat to keep the innings on track after Gambhir's dismissal.
A twin strike by Umesh Yadav, removing Kallis and McCullum off successive balls, caused some flutter in the Knight Riders' camp, but the effort came a bit late in the day as the remaining batsmen saw the team home without much hiccups.
Daredevils, apart from their batting, will be disappointed with their bowling too. They had a fearsome attack with three bowlers consistently clocking over 140, but KKR still had it quite easy.
While KKR will be over the moon after upsetting the table toppers, the Daredevils will need to sit down and sort out the problems that have cropped up with this loss.