After a disappointing opener, there was a humdinger on offer for fans on Thursday. Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Mumbai Indians (MI) featured in a game that went all the way to the wire, with fortunes swinging almost every minute. In the end, it was an excellent last over from RCB medium pacer Vinay Kumar that secured a close win for his side. With 10 needed off the last over, and two set batsmen at the crease, the match seemed to be loaded in Mumbai’s favour, but all credit to Kumar for the manner in which he maintained his cool under pressure and picked up two big wickets.
Mumbai would have been disappointed for sure after having lost the game. With two overs to go they needed only 17 with plenty of wickets hand. However, Jaydev Unadkat bowled a very efficient penultimate over, keeping the ball in the right areas and not conceding a single boundary. While Kumar will be remembered as the bowling hero of this game for Bangalore, Unadkat’s contribution was significant in the sense that it was his effort that left Dinesh Karthik and Ambati Rayudu with no other option than to go after Kumar in the last over.
While Mumbai would be ruing the lost opportunity, Bangalore must consider themselves lucky to have gotten out of jail. At one stage, they were cruising towards victory when, out of nowhere, Karthik played some breathtaking strokes to bring Mumbai right back into the game. Consider this –at the end of the 16th over, Mumbai’s target was an improbable 61 from 31 balls, but Karthik’s brilliance brought it down to 27 off 18 balls; the three consecutive sixes he hit off Daniel Christian seemed to have completely changed the complexion of the game.
The six Karthik hit off Muttiah Muralitharan made the equation even easier for Mumbai – 17 from 12. Alas, it wasn’t to be Karthik’s day entirely. He played a brilliant knock, which deserved to end up on the winning side, but Bangalore held their nerve at the right moments to sneak ahead to victory. The economical bowling performance by veteran Murali Kartik earlier in the innings also aided Bangalore’s cause. As for Mumbai, their slip in the middle of the innings, when they lost three wickets – Tendulkar, Ponting, Rohit Sharma – hurt them.
With the bat for Bangalore, it was again Chris Gayle who did the trick. There is something about the IPL that brings out the best in Gayle. He has been the most successful batsman in the league over the last two seasons. And, on Thursday, he batted as if he had played his last IPL game just a few days ago. Whatever is the reason behind Gayle’s success in the tournament, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) wouldn’t be complaining. It is another matter altogether that the franchise haven’t been able to claim the trophy even once in spite of Gayle’s brilliance. But, that has gotto do more with their failings as a team.
Turning point of the game: In a match that went all the way to the wire, Karthik’s dismissal in the final over was crucial. Mumbai needed nine from five balls, and one big hit from Karthik could have won them the match.
--By A Cricket Analyst