A tale of three overs
The fourth over of the Royal Challengers Bangalore innings yielded 22 runs. With AB de Villiers still indisposed, RCB had to tweak again upfront, as Manan Vohra partnered Quinton de Kock. In a virtually win-or-bust game for both teams, Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma chose to field after winning the toss on a surface that became uncharacteristically sluggish with time. JP Duminy opened the proceedings for Mumbai and bowled a decent first over, conceding only a six to Vohra.
Then, after a change of ends, the offie was bowling to Vohra again. Duminy started with a flighted delivery, which the RCB opener lofted over mid-on for a four, charging down the track. The next ball was fuller on the off stump. Vohra clobbered it over mid-off for a six. Duminy lost his length and gave away another four and a six in his next two deliveries. Twenty-two runs came off the over and the hosts had the early momentum.
Mumbai pulled things back with the scalps of de Kock and Vohra. Brendon McCullum, Bangalore’s new No.3, had to wrest the initiative. He survived an easy run-out opportunity in the first ball of Hardik Pandya’s first over. The next delivery, a chest-high full-toss and a no-ball, was top-edged over the ‘keeper’s head for a six.
Pandya bowled a low full-toss to cancel out the free-hit. An audacious ‘Baz scoop’ sent it yet again over the ‘keeper’s head for another maximum. Hardik is a Team India regular in white-ball cricket. McCullum, on the other hand, is a ‘pensioner’, who plies his trade in different T20 league after hanging up his international boots two years ago. But class never dies and the ‘Baz scoop’ was a throwback to his glorious past. Another four in that over completed a momentum-swing. Twenty runs came off the 10th over. Flurry of wickets towards the back end of the RCB innings had once again tilted the balance in Mumbai’s favour.
Hardik triggered the collapse but we would come to that later. After 19 overs, the hosts were 143/7. Mitchell McClenaghan, who had conceded only 11 runs in his first three overs for a wicket, was on the money to start with in his last over as well. Then, the Kiwi fast bowler tried a slower off-cutter to Colin de Grandhomme, which was sent 10 rows back over deep mid-wicket. McClenaghan’s response was poor; an above-waist full-toss that went for another maximum. And de Grandhomme gleefully accepted the ‘free-hit’ favour to add six more runs to the total. Twenty-four runs in the final over took RCB to 167/7, which proved to be above-par on a difficult pitch.
Hardik pulls things back
After an expensive start to his bowling spell, Hardik made a great comeback; first with his fielding and then with the ball. McCullum made the mistake of taking on the throwing arm of Mumbai’s best fielder. He flat-batted McClenaghan to wide of mid-off inside the circle and went for a sharp single. Hardik’s pickup and throw at the non-striker’s end had been electric, which caught McCullum about a yard short.
Removing Mandeep Singh and Virat Kohli in successive deliveries was even better. A slower ball got the better of Mandeep. As for the Bangalore skipper, it wasn’t a typical Kohli innings, timing-wise.
There had been some magnificent shots but some mis-timed hits as well. Kohli even survived a thin outside edge to the ‘keeper off Jasprit Bumrah, because the visitors didn’t go for a review. Hardik got rid of him with a back-of-a-length delivery that offered spongy bounce. Kohli couldn’t get on top of it and was holed out at long-on. In the final ball of that over, Hardik dismissed Washington Sundar to finish with 3/28 in three overs.
RCB hold death-overs nerve
Kieron Pollard has somewhat lost his hitting mojo this term. He no longer remains an automatic pick for Mumbai Indians. The big Trinidadian played this match only because his compatriot, Evin Lewis, suffered an injury. An out of touch Pollard, however, decided to give Umesh Yadav a charge, despite the fact that the Indian tearaway was clocking 145kph.
A bouncer rattled the helmet grille and Pollard had a close shave. Umesh already had his tail up after accounting for Suryakumar Yadav and Rohit in consecutive balls. In Rohit’s case, it was a fantastic catch and an excellent review from RCB ‘keeper de Kock. That was half the job done for the hosts. And the Chinnaswamy crowd, often being criticised for a flat atmosphere, finally magnified the volume level of the stadium.Yuzvendra Chahal turned the ball a mile and was unlucky not to get a wicket.
But Hardik was keeping Mumbai in the game. With three overs remaining, the visitors needed 35 runs for victory.
For once, though, RCB held their death-overs nerve. Tim Southee bowled a wonderful 18th over. Mohammed Siraj removed Krunal Pandya in the penultimate over followed by another top-class performance from Southee. Bangalore conceded only 20 runs in the last three overs to win the match by 14 runs.
They stay afloat, while the defending champions went deeper in the mire.