Gayle, Vinay thwart MI
Yesterday evening the Royal Challengers Bangalore won one of the narrowest wins ever against the visiting Mumbai Indians. This also ended MI’s record of never being beaten by the home side here at Bengaluru. Observing the grass on the track, Ricky Ponting decided to give his pacers a chance to use the conditions by bowling first. Although RCB would have had some relief at the fact that Lasith Malinga wasn’t playing, his replacement Mitchell Johnson’s angle from left-arm over the wicket was very hard to score of for the RCB openers. In his second over, Johnson castled Tillakaratne Dilshan with a fuller delivery, and sent the off-stump out of the ground. Captain Virat Kohli showed flashes of aggression by taking on Johnson and Munaf Patel. Then he hit debutant Jasprit Bumrah for 3 boundaries in 4 balls before getting lbw on the 5th. Mayank Agarwal – who was batting at number 4 in the absence of AB de Villiers – perished shortly after, again to Bumrah. Chris Gayle then used Daniel Christan’s solidity at the other end to go for his shots. Although Christian fell to Harbhajan for 4 later on, the fact that he had stayed there gave Gayle the momentum he needed. Although domestic hero Karun Nair fell to Bumrah for a duck later, Gayle teamed up with Arun Karthik (19 of 19) to take RCB to a defendable 156. Just to demonstrate how Gayle’s aggression in the middle and death overs piled, consider this: he was at 21 of 20 at one stage, and finished at 92 of 58. Gayle went particularly severe on Munaf Patel, converting his figures from 0/8 in 2 all the way to 0/40 in 4. Many people had raised their eyebrows at the selection of the bowling attack, in which Jaydev Unadkat had been played ahead of RP Singh. Even more eyebrows were raised as he came in to bowl the opening over to the opening pair we have all been waiting to see since the auctions in Feb: Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting. Although the RCB bowlers were not outrageously expensive, Sachin and Punter were still scoring with little difficulty, and brought up a 50-run stand in 7.1 overs. However, some sharp fielding by Unadkat resulted in Sachin’s run out 2 balls later. RCB then forced their way back into the game as Murali Karthik had Punter stumped about 2 overs later, and Vinay Kumar dismissed Rohit Sharma for the 3rd time in their last 3 meetings. However, Dinesh Karthik didn’t give up so easily. He took Christian for 24 in one over, and his efforts made sure that MI needed just 10 of the last over. However, Vinay Kumar bowled the best death-over of his life. First Ambati Rayudu sneaked a bye. Then Karthik perished attempting to clear the stands again, then Vinay clattered Rayudu, who was on strike because they had run in KArthik’s dismissal. Bhajji took a single, and Pollard struck a boundry that was almost a six. Then, VK – with 4 to defend – bowled a beautiful yorker that Pollard could only dig out for a single. It was heartbreak for all the MI players – particularly Dinesh Karthik – as they had come so close, but failed to pull it off. Ironic, as MI have given so many other teams this heartbreak in the past. Chris Gayle was adjudged Man of the Match for his match-winning knock, although Vinay Kumar was very much in contention. Well, now we will progress on to Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Pune Warriors India, which is yet another interesting game. Check back for the preview in about half an hour. See ya!