The flip side of non-stop cricket was on display at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium here on Friday. Wickets fell in a heap, entertainment went for a toss and the fare deserved a quick burial.
The match practically knew its poor fate even before the floodlights could glow in full glory as Mumbai Indians managed a miserable 94. Flair and pace became a victim of some predictable approach by a shockingly uninspired Mumbai Indians.
Most spectators went home exultant and yet gloomy. Happy at Rajasthan Royals having crushed Mumbai Indians by seven wickets but sad at seeing Sachin Tendulkar last a mere seven balls.
Mumbai Indians lost some of its sheen but not the top slot in the table. At 10 points, with two defeats, it stayed much in control even as Rajasthan Royals, riding on the motivational leadership of Shane Warne, moved a step behind at nine points. The race for the semifinal places has begun in earnest now.
The heat was searing when the stands filled up in anticipation of a royal show. But Mumbai Indians was clearly a pale shadow of its character. The batting was dreadfully short of the standards that Tendulkar would love to boast of and the bowling lacked the penetration needed to put the opposition under any sort of pressure.
In contrast, Warne was clinical in his handling of the bowlers and field placements. The superb work by Rajasthan Royals in the field deserved all the credit.
Ashok Menaria, known more for his batting potential, excelled with the ball in a dream spell that landed him the priceless scalp of Tendulkar and the foxy ambush of Ambati Rayudu. The local lad, just 20, enjoyed the attention and the appreciation that came for his two wickets.
How often does Tendulkar get stumped? In 733 international innings, he has been stumped just 12 times. Of course, this one was in a format that does not appeal to him.
Yet, it was a memorable moment for Menaria. He tossed the ball, Tendulkar stepped out with a purpose but his bat encountered thin air. The ball curled past him and Dishant Yagnik, also a local player, added his name to record an unforgettable occasion. Tendulkar stumped Yagnik bowled Menaria would ever be part of their cricket recounting.
What about the spectators? They did not cheer Tendulkar's dismissal. He was part of them even when plotting their team's doom. They cheered his only boundary and celebrated the catch he took to send Rahul Dravid back.
Even the joyful dance by Menaria and Yagnik was reverential. Rarely does a visiting and losing captain evoke a thunderous response from the stands as does Tendulkar.
Mumbai Indians was invited to bat and it set sail with confidence. It gradually dawned that the slow pitch needed circumspection in shot selection. But the discipline was missing in the ranks. The lackadaisical attitude was glaring. The highest was 17 by Andrew Symonds.
There was some gamesmanship too in the end when Harbhajan Singh, with three balls left, ran the first short to keep strike. He hit Shane Watson for a six off the last ball but the deliberate short run was an eyesore. The Rajasthan Royals chase was a calculated grind, understandably circumspect, but wisely executed.
There were no frills and the objective was achieved comfortably with Man-of-the-match Johan Botha guiding the innings. The dropped catch by Kieron Pollard symbolised the ragged performance of Mumbai Indians this evening.
Mumbai Indians: D. Jacobs b Amit Singh 15 (15b, 1x6), S. Tendulkar st. Yagnik b Menaria 7, (7b, 1x4), A. Rayudu c & b Menaria 11 (13b, 1x4), Rohit Sharma c Botha b Warne 13 (22b, 1x4), A. Symonds b Botha 17 (26b, 1x4), K. Pollard lbw b Botha 4 (15b), R. Satish st. Yagnik b Botha 7 (6b), Harbhajan (not out) 10, (7b, 1x6), S. Malinga b Amit Singh 1 (4b), A. Murtaza (not out) 2 (5b); Extras (lb-3, w-4): 7; Total (for nine wkts. in 20 overs): 94.
Fall of wickets: 1-22, 2-28, 3-46, 4-50, 5-68, 6-81, 7-82, 8-83.
Rajasthan Royals bowling: Menaria 4-0-20-2, Amit Singh 4-0-14-2, Watson 4-0-25-0, Warne 4-0-13-1, Trivedi 2-0-13-0, Botha 2-0-6-3.
Rajasthan Royals: S. Watson c Jacobs b Malinga 26 (32b, 3x4, 1x6), R. Dravid c Tendulkar b Munaf 5 (16b), J. Botha b Munaf 45 (39b, 2x4, 1x6), R. Taylor (not out) 13 (18b, 1x4), A. Menaria (not out) 4 (4b, 1x4); Extras (lb-1, w-1): 2; Total (for three wkts. in 18.1 overs): 95.
Fall of wickets: 1-17, 2-56, 3-90.
Mumbai Indians bowling: Malinga 4-0-20-0, Munaf 4-1-18-2, Murtaza 4-0-15-0, Harbhajan 3-0-20-0, R. Sathish 1.1-0-5-0, Pollard 2-0-16-0.
Man-of-the-Match: J. Botha.
Keywords: IPL 2011