Sachin Tendulkar's maiden Twenty20 century went in vain as Kochi Tuskers Kerela opened their account in the Indian Premier League with an eight-wicket victory over Mumbai Indians in Mumbai on Friday.
Mumbai Indians' skipper slammed a 66-ball 100 and put on a stand of 116 runs with Ambati Rayudu (53) to set an imposing target of 182 after Kochi skipper Mehela Jayawardene won the toss and decided to field.
But Kochi opener Brendon McCullum powered his way to an equally brilliant 81, and added 128 runs with Jayawardene, to help the IPL debutants overhaul the stiff target, reaching 184-2 with six balls to spare.
With the match poised on a razor's edge, Ravindra Jadeja smashed left arm spinner Ali Murtaza for a four and two successive sixes off full tosses to help the Tuskers get past the finish line in style.
It was heartbreak for Tendulkar. The iconic batsman smashed three sixes and 12 fours, reaching his hundred with a single, off the last ball of the Mumbai innings. But McCullum stole the thunder later with a 60-ball 81 that was studded with two sixes and 10 fours.
The New Zealander was well-supported by Jayawardene, who cracked a brisk 56 off 36 balls to lay the foundation for the run chase.
Lasith Malinga brought Mumbai Indians back into the game, dismissing the openers in his last two overs, but Jadeja, who scored a 11-ball 25, inclusive of two fours and as many sixes, and Brad Hodge (11 not out in 7 balls) ensured there were no more hiccups as they helped the Tuskers reach the target with an undefeated stand of 28 runs.
The Tuskers, who lost their first two games in this their debut season, started the run chase promisingly when McCullum, dropped on zero by Rohit Sharma off Malinga at slips, punished the Sri Lankan pacer with a flurry of fours, three in all, in the bowler's second over.
With Jayawardene looking composed and aggressive at the other end, the Kochi outfit raised the 50 in the sixth over to keep themselves in the hunt as danger man Malinga was seen off after an expensive two-over spell for 22 runs.
McCullum stepped out to Kieron Pollard and lofted the West Indian over mid-off for a six and then slog-swept Harbhajan Singh over mid-wicket for another maximum to keep the required run-rate within control. Pollard's first three overs went for 30 runs.
After 10 overs, Kochi were 84-0, well ahead of Mumbai (71-0) at the same stage.
The New Zealander, credited with the first-ever century in IPL history, completed his half century in 41 balls with the help of two sixes and six fours.
Jayawardene, playing second fiddle while keeping the run-rate surging along, came into his element just before the Tuskers reached the 100 mark, in the 12th over, by punishing Harbhajan Singh for two successive fours -- an inside-out lofted drive to extra cover and a pull to square leg.
He went on to complete his half century in a 30 balls (8x4).
Tendulkar brought on R Satish, but McCullum swung him for a four and then powerfully drove left armer Ali Murtaza over cover for another boundary in the 13th over, at the end of which the Tuskers were 67 runs short of the target with all wickets intact on a good batting track.
In a desperate move, Tendulkar brought back Malinga, but McCullum slashed his wide ball for a four and his Lankan compatriot Jayawardene steered him for another boundary to keep the runs coming along.
But the sling-arm bowler got his revenge immediately after with a swinging yorker that clean bowled the classy Lankan.
At that stage, the visitors needed 55 runs in 37 balls in order to notch their first victory in the tournament. After a tight over from Harbhajan it changed the calculation to 48 off last 30 balls, with McCullum and new batsman Ravindra Jadeja unable to give the charge to the clever offie.
Another good over by Munaf Patel, who gave away eight runs brought the calculation to 40 runs off 24 balls. It was then that Malinga struck another big blow.
In his last over, the Sri Lankan clean bowled McCullum when the batsman attempted to scoop the ball behind the wicket keeper, raising hopes for Mumbai.
However, Brad Hodge slammed the bowler for two fours in the same over to bring down the target to 19 off 12 balls. Then, with 19 needed off the last 12 balls, Jadeja waded into Murtaza and finished off the match.
Earler, Tendulkar, who carried on his superb form in the World Cup into the T20 League, slammed three sixes and eight fours, and put on a stand of 116 runs in just over ten overs with Ambati Rayudu, who played a blinder of an innings while making 53 in 33 balls with four sixes and three fours.
The duo, who had stitched a match-winning partnership in the previous game against Royal Challengers Bangalore, were in absolute command during their rip-roaring second wicket stand after the home team was asked to bat first on a wicket that had bounce and seam movement initially.
The second wicket pair joined forces after Tendulkar and Davy Jacobs (12) put on 61 for the first wicket, and were not separated till Rayudu was run-out in the last over.
Tendulkar went on to complete his first-ever hundred in the T20 league with a four, a six and a single off Vinay Kumar's final ball. The bowler gave away a whopping 48 runs in his four overs.
Tendulkar started the Mumbai innings with a brilliant straight-driven four when Rudra Pratap Singh over-pitched. The champion batsman then slashed Vinay Kumar for another four in the second over, Raiphi Gomez misfielding at third man.
Tendulkar struck two consecutive fours off Vinay in the fourth over to up the run-rate. He was later troubled by Vinay and escaped two close leg before calls off the Karnataka bowler.
The aggressive intent of Tendulkar, who was also lucky to see his edged shot off Tissera Perera eluding leaping wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel, was in sharp contrast to his opening partner Davy Jacobs, who could not time the ball at all.
Tendulkar's positive play helped Mumbai amass 44 without loss at the end of the 6-over Power Play and his contribution was 31 off 32 balls.
Jacobs finally hit a boundary off the first ball of the ninth over from Gomez, a pull shot on bent knees, before the Kerala Ranji bowler deceived him with a slower ball and clean bowled the South African batsman.
Rayudu, who came into the match on the back of a brilliant unbeaten half century against Royal Challengers Bangalore, slammed the innocuous looking Gomez for sixes off consecutive balls, depositing the ball into the stands, over mid-on and extra cover.
Then Tendulkar paddle swept the bowler for another boundary to raise the scoring rate.
Eighteen runs were taken off the medium pacer in the 11th over as Mumbai raced to 89 for one and Gomez's figures were an unimpressive 3-0-29-1.
When Perera replaced the expensive Gomez, Rayudu sent him soaring over the straight field for his third six. Rayudu carted left arm spinner Jadeja for two fours to the straight field by coming out disdainfully and smacking the ball before Tendulkar followed suit in similar style. The 14th over cost 14 runs.
The duo raised the half century stand in 34 balls and when off spinner Ramesh Powar, who is at home in this stadium being a part of the Mumbai Ranji team, came on to bowl his first over, he was greeted with a lofted boundary to mid-wicket by Rayudu.
Then the talented Hyderabad youngster hoisted the bowler over square leg for his fourth six as Mumbai's total surged to 125 for one.
Tendulkar struck his first six of the innings with a swivel, swinging Vinay Kumar over long leg when the bowler injudiciously tried a bouncer.
The bowler was carted over long on by the batting maestro from wide outside the off stump in the same over for a second six, before being struck him for a four to long on off the last ball as the 16th over bled 20 runs.
Tendulkar, who batted with absolute freedom, later hit Gomez for a four and a six in the penultimate over to become the leading scorer in the tournament, overtaking Jacques Kallis of Kolkata Knight Riders.
All the Kochi bowlers, barring R P Singh who caught the eye with figures of 4-0-15-0, proved expensive.