From the moment they’ve touched down in the city last week, the Mumbai Indians camp has exuded muted confidence, which is uncanny for a team that hadn’t won a match and was languishing at the bottom of the eight-team IPL table. They were happy to be back at their fortress, the Wankhede, where they haven’t lost a match in a season-and-a-half. The win over table-toppers King XI Punjab last Saturday further had boosted their confidence.
But even before the celebrations could die down, a bigger and much stiffer challenge awaited them. However, all the doubts were laid to rest after Mumbai Indians stitched together a fine overall performance to record their second consecutive win and beat Royal Challengers Bangalore by 19 runs here on Tuesday’s night.
While the win would certainly be pleasing, the manner in which Mumbai went about their job would be even more gratifying for coach John Wright.
In the six matches before the RCB tie this season, the formidable Mumbai batting line-up had failed to live up to the hype. Save for an odd knock by one of the players, there was little for them to boast about — the openers weren’t getting desired starts, the big-hitting middle order wasn’t clicking and consequently, the bowlers were left to defend paltry sums.
But it all came together on Tuesday night. Mumbai looked an outfit that played with an air of being the title holders — they batted with controlled aggression, bowled with precision and took some fine catches as well.
CM Gautam enhanced his reputation with another sturdy knock at the top (30), which helped the hosts get off to a solid start — a luxury their middle order hasn’t had so far this season. And they ensured it wasn’t wasted. It did seem that Mumbai had lost their way mid-way through their innings but the ugly spat between Mitchell Starc and Kieron Pollard fired them up.
In fact, tempers flared and expletives were blurted out by both sets of players for the entire match. Every Mumbai wicket was met with an in-your-face celebration by the Bangalore bowlers — be it the young Yuzvendra Chahal or the experienced Mitchell Starc.
But Rohit Sharma and Pollard, who were neatly contained by RCB bowlers then, ensured their aggression was channeled in the right direction. They went for the kill and scored 54 runs in the last 22 balls, after managing just 44 in the previous six overs, to set up a target of 188 for the visitors.
The question really was, would it prove to be enough.
Mumbai’s bowlers have fared marginally better than the batsman so far but with the firepower that RCB possess, especially with Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers in their continued…