Sharma, Rayudu quickfire help Mumbai post 178

Ambati Rayudu played a breezy innings of 59 off 39 balls. AFP

By Jamie Alter

Mumbai: May 7, 2011

A sparkling half-century from Ambati Rayudu punished Delhi Daredevils attack and carried Mumbai Indians to a commanding 178 at the Wankhede Stadium. Rayudu s effort built on the platform laid by Aiden Blizzard and ensured the momentum gained by Rohit Sharma was not squandered, and the manner in which he used his crease to go over the off side or hoist the ball over square leg was breath-taking. The first five overs of MI s innings yielded 50, and after a brief lull the final eight brought 82; if Ajit Agarkar had not managed to bowl a terrific final over it could have been a lot worse for DD.

Having been asked to bat first, MI s openers took different approaches to try and lay a platform. Where Blizzard preferred to make room and swing and flash his bat, Sachin Tendulkar was comfortable nudging it for singles or driving when the bowlers overpitched. Blizzard s full force was felt by Morne Morkel in the third over: repeatedly making room to either slash over cover or heave over midwicket, Blizzard crashed five boundaries to take the score to 35.

Further swatted boundaries took MI to 50 for 0 after five overs, but it was then that the impressive Irfan Pathan picked up Tendulkar for 14, bowled playing across the line. From here, DD momentarily pulled things back their way; Shahbaz Nadeem struck in first over, getting Blizzard to swing to midwickets and MI pottered to 67 for two after nine overs.

The surge came in the tenth over, in which Rayudu tucked into James Hopes to snatch two boundaries. An effortless six off the pads by Rayudu against Agarkar inspired Rohit to take one off the thoroughly off-key Morkel when he returned for a third over, setting in motion a profitable period for MI when they repeatedly found big overs.

The 13th over cost 11, the 15th went for 18 – with Rohit clubbing sixes off Hopes and 12 came off the 16th before Rohit was picked up at third man by a tumbling Venugopal Rao, who had earlier given away two free runs when he hit the stumps from the deep. Rayudu sped past his fifty with six and four off Nadeem, and collected further boundaries off Hopes before he trod on his stumps and had to depart for 59 off 39 balls.

Kieron Pollard, who top-edged his first ball and edged his second for four, wasn t able to flex his muscles and Agarkar did outstandingly to allow just five runs bowling yorkers and slower balls – from the final over with Pollard and Andrew Symonds on strike.

Brief Scores: MI 178 for 4 in 20 overs (Ambati Rayudu 59, Rohit Sharma 49, Aiden Blizzard 37; Irfan Pathan 1 for 23) vs DD.

Full Scorecard

(Jamie Alter is a freelance cricket writer, having worked at ESPNcricinfo and All Sports Magazine. He is the author of two books, The History of World Cup Cricket and Field of Dreams: The Story of the Dr. DY Patil Sports Stadium. His twitter feed is @jamie_alter)