Dinesh Karthik holds a T20 league 'record' that few are aware of. When the Mumbai Indians signed him up from the Kings XI Punjab for the 2012 season, it was believed to be the highest sum paid for a player in a transfer window.
Kings XI had spent $900,000 (R4.77 crores) on Karthik during the January 2011 auction, but Mumbai, it was believed, paid anywhere between $2-2.5 million (R10.59-13.2 crores) for the wicketkeeper batsman.
Punjab did not mind Karthik's departure as they were getting good returns for their investment, and Mumbai aren't complaining either. Not after what Karthik did on Tuesday. In the three matches this season, Karthik has been the best and most consistent batsman for Mumbai. But his pyrotechnics at the Wankhede Stadium were something else. After the Delhi Daredevils had sent back the dream opening combination of Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting with just one run on the board, Karthik took over in great style.
As his wont, the nimble footed right-hander threw caution to the winds, displaying an aggression that stole the Daredevils' thunder on the night. By the end of his whirlwind 86 (48b, 66m, 14x4, 2x6), Karthik had not only bailed Mumbai out of trouble but had rocketed them to 209/5.
The season's highest team score was also possible due to Rohit Sharma's unbeaten 74 (50b, 4x4, 5x6), who took off after Karthik failed to reach a well-deserved hundred, but did enough to own the Orange Cap.
The Daredevils, in reply, had a similar start. They lost Unmukt Chand off the first ball to a stunning catch from Ponting off Harbhajan Singh, and then skipper Mahela Jayawardene too fell cheaply.
Their go-to man David Warner 61 (37b, 5x4, 4x6) repaired the innings with Manpreet Juneja 49 (40b, 6x4), but once he perished to Mitchell Johnson, the Daredevils had little chance of chasing the steep total. Eventually, they ended up at 165 for nine.
The 44-run loss was the visitors' third successive loss and one that would have hurt them the most, after they had got off to a fantastic start.
They had to leave out Virender Sehwag again, with the opener not recovering completely from back spasms. But they were off the blocks quickly after Ponting fell in the first over and Tendulkar ran himself out in the next. It brought back the memories of last year's clash between the two sides here, when Mumbai had folded up for a measly 92 as the Daredevils had run away with a seven-wicket victory.
However, those memories were quickly banished once Karthik got going.
The 27-year-old adjusted to the seam movement and pace off the pitch quickly to free his arms. Anything pitched short he rocked back to cut or pull over the square region and played the chip shot well when the ball was up. Even the disconcerting bounce generated by Morne Morkel and late movement of Ashish Nehra and Irfan Pathan did not trouble Karthik.