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Mumbai high, Delhi dry

The home team is virtually in the last-four after its comprehensive victory. Amol Karhadkar reports. Scorecard

india Updated: May 08, 2011 01:44 IST
Amol Karhadkar

As shadows lengthened on the Queen's Necklace on Saturday evening, Mumbai Indians batsman Rohit Sharma tweeted: "Leavin for the game! Hope to win this nd seal the play off spot!"

Just over three hours later, Sharma and his team were assured of a place in the final four for the second successive Indian Premier League season.

Even with Delhi Daredevils having almost 18 overs remaining to chase the home team's 178 for four, the writing was clear on the wall. Minutes after David Warner and Colin Ingram perished in the first two overs of the innings, the Daredevils' one-man army - skipper Virender Sehwag - miscued a pull shot off Munaf Patel and found Sharma's safe pair of hands.

Early collapse
Three down for four runs in the third over became four for seven four balls later as Naman Ojha edged one from Munaf Patel to Ambati Rayudu behind the stumps. Then on, despite James Hopes' fifty and an Irfan Pathan cameo, it was downhill before the Daredevils folded for 146 runs, falling short of the MI total by 32 runs. It meant while the MI became the first team to make it to the last four, the Daredevils will need a big miracle to join them in the play-offs.

Making Sehwag's skier look like a regulation catch wasn't the only difficult task that Sharma achieved at a packed Wankhede Stadium. After Aiden Blizzard's blazing start, which included five boundaries in a Morne Morkel over, the Mumbai Indians seemed they would lose the plot with Sharma and top-scorer Ambati Rayudu finding it tough to get going in the middle overs.

Suddenly, Sharma changed gears to take the game away from the Daredevils - who were in a must-win situation. He first hoicked Morkel over his head for a mammoth six in the 13th over and added two more off Hopes in the next to give impetus to the MI innings.

After setting a difficult target for Delhi, Sachin Tendulkar started the innings with offie Harbhajan Singh and he obliged by trapping Warner in front. And Lasith Malinga started his spell with a toe-crushing yorker that zipped through Ingram's defence. There was no real comeback from there.