The Mumbai Indians are having a bit of a nightmare in IPL 2014, a nightmare from which they just cannot wake up. In Sharjah, the defending IPL champs suffered their fourth loss in four games, this time to the Delhi Daredevils, as they remained the only side this season without a single win.
The batting failed abysmally yet again, with MI, choosing to bat first, unable to find their rhythm wielding the willow, and only managing 125 for six in their 20 overs.
The target was never even remotely going to be enough to challenge the Daredevils, with Delhi, despite making heavy weather of the chase, getting to it in 18.5 overs with six wickets to spare, while Kevin Pietersen (26, 18b, 2x4, 1x6) got some desperately-required time in the middle as well.
Quinton De Kock, so impressive in his first IPL game of the season against the Sunrisers a couple of days back, and Murali Vijay got their team off to a sound start, even if there might have been a little too many dot deliveries in the partnership.
The two openers put on 34 runs together, with both batsmen getting tied down a little, as Harbhajan Singh (4-1-23-0), in particular, bowled quite well, notching a maiden over to his name in the process.
That pressure created ended up working in MI's favour, as De Kock (16, 24b, 2x6), after surviving a nervy run out chance, flayed one outside off to point off Corey Anderson, with Michael Hussey, belying his 38 years and 335 days, diving brilliantly to his left to latch onto an outstanding catch.
Despite De Kock's dismissal, Delhi Daredevils still needed only 90 from the final 13 overs, with plenty of batting, Pietersen, in particular, to follow.
Duminy was sent in at No.3 to keep the left and right-hand combination going and it worked quite well with the South African and Vijay putting on 45 runs in just 33 balls. Duminy has been Delhi's best batsman this season by a mile, and the left-hander looked quite comfortable at the crease, with Vijay's innings also growing in stature.
However, skipper Rohit Sharma's decision to give himself an over brought out a wicket, with Vijay (40, 34b, 4x4, 1x6), lulled into a sense of security by the gentle off-spinners, going for an almighty slog and ending up being castled.
DD needed 47 runs from 46 balls at that point, with Pietersen coming in to partner Duminy, and Rohit's decision to give himself another over worked against him as his counterpart took a liking to him, tonking him for a six and two fours.
Delhi pushed the panic button a little in Malinga's return over, the 16th, with Duminy 19 (24b) and Dinesh Karthik falling in the space of three deliveries. Both batsmen picked out fielders inside the circle perfectly, and with it giving MI a sniff of a chance.
The equation read 21 from 24 balls with DD having six wicket still in hand, and most importantly, Pietersen very much at the crease, with the skipper and Kedar Jadhav (14, 10b, 2x4) taking their team home comfortably.
One would have thought Mumbai Indians would surely not fail with the bat for the fourth game in a row, but then one would have thought wrong. Everything that comes with their batting seems to be severely disjointed at the moment, and Rohit Sharma pushing himself to the top of the order, like he should have done from the off, did not quite work out either.
The skipper decided to take up the opening mantle at the fourth time of asking, with Michael Hussey sent down the order - meaning Aditya Tare was given another chance to impress.
Momentum is always essential in a T20 innings, and the primary job of the openers is to provide just that for the rest of the batsmen to ride the wave. However, momentum for MI at the moment is taking a long vacation, on a deserted island with no mobile service.
Rohit's (4, 5b, 0x4, 0x6) first game opening the innings in IPL 2014 did not last too long, with the MI captain getting run out in the second over after a terrible mix-up and a nice direct hit from bowler Mohammed Shami.
Tare (8, 10b, 1x4) followed his captain back to the pavilion a couple of overs later, picking out De Kock at deep midwicket perfectly off Wayne Parnell.
Corey Anderson and Ambati Rayudu looked to quell the slide and set a base for the final few overs, but after a 22-run stand in 20 balls, Anderson was sent packing, with the left-hander striking a dolly of a Jaidev Unadkat delivery straight to De Kock in the deep.
Rayudu had painstakingly settled himself in at the crease, but threw it away after a 21-ball 14-run stay, becoming another MI batsman to get holed out in the deep. At 46 for four in nine overs, the Mumbai Indians were in deep trouble, and needed the experience of Hussey and Kieron Pollard to come to the fore and dig them out of the hole they had dug for themselves yet again.
However, Hussey's (10,18b) poor run in IPL 2014 continued, with the left-hander misreading a nice slow yorker from Unadkat and seeing his timber disturbed.
Pollard and CM Gautam (22, 18b, 3x4) allied for a much-needed 40-run partnership in just 29 balls, which sent that limp run rate up a little, before Pollard (33 n.o., 30b, 2x4, 2x6) and Habhajan Singh (10, 5b, 1x4, 1x6) got their side over 120 with a few lusty blows - MI scoring 56 runs in the final five overs, which needed to be close to a 100 for the team to pose a challenge to Delhi.