Royal Challengers Bangalore always prove to be a hot property while playing in front of their home crowd and with the return of their skipper Virat Kohli for his first game this season, the match was well set up for another classic contest. However, an uncharacteristic Chinnaswamy surface and some sluggish batting which saw Bangalore record their lowest ever powerplay score at the venue, ensured that Bangalore did not have enough on the board. Chasing a modest 143 to win, Mumbai Indians lost their way with Samuel Badree picking up the first hat-trick of the season. But Kieron Pollard and Krunal Pandya’s retort in the form of a stodgy 93-run sixth-wicket stand allowed the tourists to recover and script a come-from-behind four-wicket victory.
Where and how did the Mumbai Indians put it across hosts Royal Challengers Bangalore?Mumbai Indians were nothing but down and out. Courtesy the first hat-trick of the season that came from Samuel Badree, the visitors were reduced to a meagre 7 for 4. In walked Kieron Pollard with as much laze and calm that you do not associate with anyone walking in, especially in a situation like that. Picking singles and going about the partnership in a watchful manner worked well in the favour of the big-hitting Pollard. Krunal Pandya, who accompanied the man from the Caribbean, struck timely boundaries every now and then, and kept the fight alive.
While RCB tried all the tricks that they had up their sleeve, the Mumbai Indians’ duo did not give in before Pollard got stuck into Pawan Negi to hit him for a couple of sixes in the 16th over, marking the first real daunting impression on the run-chase. It started off with a couple of boundaries off Tymal Mills the over before and it went spiralling down for Bangalore from there. Pollard became the fifth batsman in T20 history to enter the 7000-run club after Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullum, Brad Hodge and David Warner. The back to back sixes helped the big man first reach his milestone and then it brought the required equation to 33 from 24. Although, Pollard departed for 70 with his team 17 runs shy of the target, Krunal ensured that there were no further hiccups post the 93-run retaliatory stand.
Where did it go wrong for RCB?First, as many as 16 dot deliveries in the mandatory powerplay period despite having Gayle and Kohli open the innings was unsettling for the sea of red that had come out in big numbers, like always. Gayle played out 11 of those dots in the first six overs. In the back five, fortunes didn’t change much for the hosts as they managed to eke out only 32 runs, losing four wickets in that period of play. The last boundary of the RCB innings came off Kohli’s bat in the 15th over and that more or less summed up the insipid batting show on an uncharacteristic Bengaluru wicket. Mitchell McClenaghan bagged a couple of wickets in this period, while Krunal Pandya delivered the body blow by sending de Villiers back into the hut.
The knock that put forth a royal challenge… almostBad shoulder or not, Virat Kohli likes it no other way than shouldering Royal Challengers’ batting responsibility. Having missed the final Test against Australia and then the first couple of games at the IPL this season, Kohli announced his arrival in kingly fashion. In as early as the third over of the game, the RCB skipper launched an attack on the New Zealand paceman Tim Southee with a quick shimmy down the track for a towering six over the sightscreen. In what was a continued carnage, he pulled a not-so-rising short ball for four before walking into a flick past mid on for the second boundary of the over. In what was the lowest ever powerplay score for RCB at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium (41 in 6 overs), which also saw 16 dots, Kohli had to be contend with the extra pressure in his maiden game this season.
Kohli thrived under pressure like he always does and got to his fifty in grand style, dismissing a low full toss over long off to reach his milestone in 39 balls. Plagued by an out-of-touch Gayle’s strike-rate and a rare AB de Villiers’s failure, Kohli’s knock (62 off 47) was rendered nothing but impotent by Pollard power.
‘Turn’ but not quite the turning pointSamuel Badree is one of the most economical T20 bowlers for some reason, isn’t it? Being brought into the eleven for his first game this season, Badree didn’t just get into the thick of action but stayed central to it throughout his four-over spell. Picking the first hat-trick of the tenth edition, the West Indian legspinner removed Parthiv Patel, McClenaghan and Rohit Sharma in the third over of the innings. The Mumbai Indians skipper, who went back for a golden duck, fell prey to a wrong-un for the fourth consecutive time this season and clearly looked flummoxed by the end of it.
However, Badree didn’t stop at that as he signed off with another wicket (4-1-9-4), removing the in-form Nitish Rana in the final over of his spell to constrict the Mumbai Indians to 33 for 5 in 8 overs. In what was a turning-the-tables around moment for RCB, Mumbai Indians were made to taste their own medicine as Badree unleashed a barrage of dots, as many as 17 of them – including the wicket deliveries.
Was it really the M Chinnaswamy Stadium we all know?A batting paradise, small boundaries and towering scores are what one associates the M Chinnaswamy Stadium with, but what surfaced during the game between MI and RCB was a complete contrast. The lowest powerplay score for the hosts in all their games at the venue, as many as 89 dot balls and had RCB defended 142, it would have been their most successful effort in defending their lowest ever score in their den. However, Pollard had other ideas as he defied the rare sluggishness of the Bengaluru wicket to script a remarkable turnaround for his side.
Where do these teams go from here?Royal Challengers Bangalore have now lost three out of their four games and will have a day off before they host Rising Pune Supergiant at their home ground. In what has been an uninspiring beginning to their campaign, RCB will have to shift gears rather quickly if they have to travel deep in the tournament. Also, if this is how the M Chinnaswamy wicket is going to play this season, the hosts might have to rethink about their combinations before it gets too late.
Mumbai Indians have now won their last three contests and will head home, riding all the momentum as they take on a diffident Gujarat Lions. Mumbai, who are not used to too many glorious starts to their IPL campaign, will want to make the most of this uncanny beginning.
Brief Scores: Royal Challengers Bangalore 142/5 in 20 overs (Virat Kohli 62; Mitchell McClenaghan 2-20) lost to Mumbai Indians 145/6 in 18.5 overs (Kieron Pollard 70, Krunal Pandya 37*; Samuel Badree 4-9) by four wickets.