Zaheer Khan’s second over was quick, incisive and by the end of it, he had sent back two of the most destructive batsmen in the world. In an over that reminded everyone that he was a seasoned master, and among the craftiest at his art, Zaheer sent back both Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh.
In fact, he needed just two deliveries each to get rid of Kohli and Yuvraj. The setup was as memorable as the dismissals themselves.
Mumbai needed something that spectacular to even get a glimmer of hope, after batting first and managing to put up just 115/9 on the board.
Eventually, even a vintage Zaheer show was not enough, as Parthiv Patel and AB de Villiers did the required to send defending champion Mumbai to back to back defeats.
But to Zaheer first. Kohli was welcomed with a short of length delivery at his body before the next delivery pitched on off-stump and left the right-hander, coaxing him into a glide and having him caught at slip.
In contrast, Zaheer started with one that leapt up from short of a length to Yuvraj, beating the left-hander with extra bounce. Having pushed the left-hander back, he then slipped in the in-cutter, trapping the leaden-footed Yuvraj leg before wicket.
For a better part of his IPL career, Zaheer has been a shadow of himself. He might be one of only 13 bowlers to have picked over 70 wickets in the tournament’s history, but the 35-year-old has overall been a shadow of himself as he has shuttled between the Mumbai Indians and RCB dugouts.
Here, at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Zaheer had regained his mojo. And by dismissing Kohli and Yuvraj, both without scoring, in the space of four deliveries, he had also given Mumbai an unlikely hope.
Little-man stands tall
Bangalore had slipped to 17/3 at the end of four overs, but they batted deep. Parthiv Patel can easily be lost in the cavalcade of T20 behemoths at RCB but he proved on Saturday that he was worth his place with a gritty unbeaten 57, hsharing a 99-run stand with the ever-dependable de Villiers.
Though Zaheer’s spell might have given the RCB dug-out a few hiccups, Mumbai had all but handed the game on a platter to Bangalore with their second straight batting disaster, finishing with a below par score.
The man mainly responsible for their hapless plight was Yuzvendra Chahal, an erstwhile Mumbai Indian himself. And it was the diminutive leg-spinner who produced the other noteworthy, and eventually more telling, two-wicket burst of the day.
Chahal delivered two potent blows to his former team’s middle-order, removing skipper Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard in quick succession, both falling prey to his flight, guile and deception. And the Chahal googly that has already made a mark this season.
With Sharma and Pollard managing just five runs between them, Mumbai’s task got harder, especially after the openers had failed too.
Ambati Rayudu did provide some impetus with an abrasive 35, but the RCB bowlers ensured that Mumbai were never let off. Chahal, who finished with 2/17 off his four overs, was the pick, though Ashok Dinda (1/14 off four overs) did his part too.