Going into Tuesday’s game at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Royal Challengers Bangalore had conceded three totals in excess of 200 this season and failed to defend scores of 175, 176 and 205. But its beleaguered bowling attack put on a superb display as Virat Kohli’s men claimed a thrilling 14-run victory over Mumbai Indians. Chasing 168 for victory, after a fine performance from its own seamers on a sluggish pitch, the visitor was in a spot of bother at 84 for five in 12 overs.
But when Hardik and Krunal Pandya added 56 runs for the sixth wicket, there were echoes of capitulations past. Tim Southee (two for 25) and Mohammed Siraj (two for 28) held firm, however, as the home fans rejoiced.
RCB embarked on its defence of the total in emphatic fashion, Southee bowling Ishan Kishan through the gate with a fine in-swinger in the first over. Umesh Yadav then struck twice in two balls — just like he had in the reverse fixture — packing off Suryakumar Yadav and Rohit Sharma. The Mumbai captain walked in at No. 4 here and was caught behind, off the shoulder of the bat, by a flying Quinton de Kock.
At 21 for three, Mumbai was lurching. The runs were not quite flowing and when Kieron Pollard edged Siraj to the ’keeper, the visitor was in serious trouble. As J-P. Duminy was run out for a painfully slow 23 (29b), RCB celebrated. The Pandya brothers fought back, but Kohli would not be denied a much-awaited triumph.
Earlier, after winning the toss and sending RCB in to bat, Mumbai never truly allowed the home side to get away. There was plenty of turn on offer from the very first over and RCB found shot-making largely difficult on a slow surface. Manan Vohra was an exception, though, as he tore into Duminy’s off-spin to score an important 45.
McCullum on the go
It was when Brendon McCullum — sent down the order here — and Virat Kohli allied, adding 60 runs (36 balls) for the third wicket, that RCB looked dominant for the first time in the match. The Kiwi played with a delightful freedom, reverse-sweeping his first ball for four, slashing a high full-toss from Hardik for six, and blithely scooping the subsequent free-hit over the sight-screen. As Kohli — who survived a shout for caught-behind when replays showed a faint edge — unleashed a couple of fierce hits at the other end, RCB was on the crest of a wave.
That superiority was all too brief, however. With McCullum’s exit, RCB began to stutter, losing five for 22 in the space of 27 balls as McClenaghan, Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik put the brakes on. McCullum was run out for 37, caught short by a searing direct-hit from mid-off by Hardik.