RCB hold nerve to clinch thriller
Gayle, Vinay rise to the occasion as Kohli’s men survive late Mumbai charge in opening game
Two dramatic overs coming in the space of four overs during the Mumbai Indians’ chase made for a thrilling contest as a sell-out crowd thoroughly feasted on the entertainment.
Royal Challengers Bangalore, who had posted a competitive 156/5 riding on Chris Gayle’s blistering 92 (58b, 11x4, 5x6), pulled off an exciting two-run win as the home boy R Vinay Kumar (3/27) bowled a dream final over to restrict Mumbai Indians to 154/5 at the Chinnaswamy on Thursday night.
A match that appeared to be in Royal Challengers’ grip till the 16th over with Mumbai needing 51 runs off 24 balls, swung in favour of the visitors as Dinesh Kaarthick (60, 37b, 2x4, 4x6) decimated Daniel Christian without as much of a warning, taking 24 runs off the paceman in the 17th over. With the equation reduced to 27 off 18 and with a number of big hitters to follow, victory for Mumbai seemed a mere formality.
With 10 required off the final six balls and Kaarthick in ominous touch, Mumbai were expected to cross the line without much fuss. Vinay’s first ball went for a single but the next two balls resulted in the dismissals of Kaarthick and Ambati Rayudu.
In walked the danger man Kieron Pollard who hit a four off the first ball he faced after Harbhajan Singh took a single. It could well have been a six though.
With four needed off the last ball, Vinay conceded just one to trigger wild home celebrations both in the stands and on the field.
Royal Challengers’ dependence on one man once again came to the fore when Gayle, battling severe pain in his left leg after a collision with Harbhajan Singh midway through the hosts’ innings, single-handedly guided them to a competitive total.
After the first two probing overs, which yielded just two runs, and Tillakaratne Dilshan’s dismissal off Mitchell Johnson, Virat Kohli took it upon himself the responsibility of accelerating the run-rate. The newly-appointed skipper did the job with aplomb but his stint was short-lived. The right-hander began with a flicked four off Johnson and then hoisted Munaf Patel over long on fence after making some room.
Denied much of strike early in his innings, Gayle was kept quiet but Kohli was fast making up for it. The 24-year-old welcomed IPL debutant Jasprit Bumrah, crashing him through cover. The next ball was neatly sliced to the same region and a delivery later, Kohli slammed the right-arm paceman again over cover. The Gujarat bowler, with a strange action, had the last laugh when he trapped Kohli in front as the batsman tried to play him across.
Kohli’s exit got Mumbai right back into the game as batsman after batsman failed to get off the blocks even though Gayle managed to get a big odd over here and there. Between Dilshan, Mayank Agarwal, Daniel Christian and Karun Nair only five runs were scored off 33 balls leaving Gayle to do all the running. Batting literally on one leg, the left-hander littered the ground with an array of dazzling strokes.
The Jamaican had trudged to six off 13 balls without a boundary but once he picked his first four glancing Jacob Oram to fine-leg, the opener found both his range and rhythm.
It needed just 25 more balls for Gayle to complete his half-century but given that there wasn’t much batting to follow, he had to both anchor and accelerate the innings.
Arun Karthik, playing this match only because AB de Villiers is unavailable, lent an able support with a 19-ball 20 (3x4) as Gayle took the attack to the opposition. Together the duo clobbered 56 runs in the last five overs to help Royal Challengers to a healthy total.