The script was all too familiar. Mumbai Magicians showing great fight in the first half of their play, only to squander it towards the end. And the Delhi Waveriders were more than happy to enact their part, outplaying the struggling Mumbai team 5-3 to win their seventh game this season.
With Delhi finishing their league encounters and sitting high on the points table, they're increasingly looking like the bunch to beat going into the knockouts. The Magicians, on the other hand, continue to look like two distinct teams on either side of the halves, thus being in danger of going winless this season.
The match started with both sides showing great intent, and local boy Yuvraj Walmiki lived up to his promise scoring a goal against his home team as early as the second minute. Skipper Sardar Singh gave a brilliant pass from the centre to Matt Gohdes, who turned it to Akashdeep. The striker shot straight to Mumbai's goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, but Yuvraj was waiting at the right place to score off the rebound.
Mumbai didn't have to wait too long for the equaliser. Bharat Chikkara smacked a powerful reverse and Glenn Turner deflected the ball neatly beside the helpless Delhi goalkeeper Nicolas Jacobi. It was 1-1 in the 10th minute and Mumbai seemed up for the challenge.
However, two minutes later, Delhi struck again, courtesy a diving Rajpal Singh deflecting the ball from the left past Sreejesh to make it 2-1 going into the quarter break.
The intensity dropped a wee bit in the second quarter, with both sides happy to play the waiting game. Then almost out of nowhere, Turner made a great run, outfoxing Sardar and drawing Jacobi out of the goal.
Having done the hard work, he passed the ball to Timothy Deavin, who just put it into the barren Mumbai citadel to equalise just before the half-time hooter.
But Mumbai's joy was short-lived, with the party pooper being Akashdeep, who scored within 35 seconds of the start of the second half, hitting to the left of Sreejesh from the top of the D to make it 3-2. From then on, Mumbai started falling apart, failing to convert two penalty corners and missing shots from fairly easy scoring positions.
No such problems for the Waveriders, who strangled them further. Rajpal notched up his second goal in the 54th minute, and Rupinderpal Singh converted Delhi's first penalty corner to make it 5-2. And by the time Mumbai finally converted a corner with two minutes remaining, it was too late to save the blushes.