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Mumbai march on

- DareDevils lose by 44 runs, their third defeat in a row

Mumbai: Dinesh Karthik and Rohit Sharma’s brilliant half-centuries set the platform for Mumbai Indians’ 44-run win over Delhi DareDevils in an IPL match, here, on Tuesday.

In the process, Mumbai earned their second consecutive win in the tournament after losing their first match against Royal Challengers Bangalore.

The result also meant that Delhi slumped to their third defeat in a row. What is hurting Delhi’s chances is the absence of key overseas players like Kevin Pietersen and Jesse Ryder. Also that Virender Sehwag is yet to recover from an injured back is not helping their cause.

Deciding to bat, Karthik’s 48-ball 86 and Rohit’s unbeaten 50-ball 74 powered Mumbai to an imposing 209 for five before the hosts produced a disciplined bowling effort to restrict Delhi to 165 for nine at the Wankhede Stadium.

Australian opener David Warner waged a lonely battle for Delhi with a 37-ball 61, but none of the other batsmen seemed to put up a fight. The pressure of an ever-increasing asking rate weighed heavily on the Delhi batsmen as they kept on losing wickets at regular intervals.

Mitchell Johnson, Kieron Pollard and Pragyan Ojha picked up two wickets apiece while Lasith Malinga and Harbhajan Singh also accounted for a wicket each for Mumbai.

Delhi were off to a poor start as opener Unmukt Chand was dismissed for a first-ball duck for the second time in this IPL season. This time, Harbhajan Singh accounted for the batsman.

Mumbai captain Ricky Ponting took a stunning catch, diving full length to his right at cover to dismiss Unmukt.

Delhi skipper Mahela Jayawardene too fell cheaply as he was caught by wicketkeeper Karthik off Mitchell Johnson for three, leaving Delhi stuttering at 13 for two inside three overs.

Even though wickets kept tumbling at the other end, Warner was hardly bothered as he went about his business in style and kept the run rate well in check with his occasional strikes.

Delhi reached their 50 in the seventh over with Warner hitting left-arm spinner Ojha for a huge six over deep mid-wicket boundary. Warner kept on punishing the Mumbai bowlers as he hit a six and a four off Pollard in the 10th over to bring up his fifty.

Warner found an ably ally in Manprit Juneja (49) as both kept the scoreboard ticking along at a fair pace. Both forged an 82-run partnership for the third wicket in just 48 deliveries before Johnson returned back for his second spell to dismiss Warner, who was looking solid during his innings of 61 off 37 balls, laced with five fours and four sixes.

The departure of Warner spelt doom for Delhi as they lost their way thereafter.

Earlier, Karthik and Rohit treated the opposition bowlers with disdain as both helped Mumbai recover from two early jolts.

Karthik continued his rich vein of form as he hit 14 fours and two sixes in his aggressive knock while Rohit too played his role to perfection.

Rohit’s chanceless knock was laced with four boundaries and five towering hits beyond the boundary line, which included three sixes off the last over bowled by pacer Ashish Nehra.

Ambati Rayudu too played a little cameo, hitting an eight-ball 24 laced with two fours and an equal number of sixes.

Mumbai got off to a worst possible start as the two batting stalwarts of the game, Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar, departed within a few balls of each other with just one run on board.