Royal Challengers Bangalore 165 for 6 (Maxwell 56, Kohli 51, Bumrah 3-36) beat Mumbai Indians 111 (Rohit 43, Harshal 4-17, Chahal 3-11) by 54 runs
In their first two games since the resumption of IPL 2021, Royal Challengers Bangalore managed all of five wickets combined in two massive losses. On Sunday, they ran into the defending champions, dearly needing a win to turn around a mid-season slump. And they got it in style.
Virat Kohli struck another half-century, Glenn Maxwell provided middle-overs firepower and key wickets before Yuzvendra Chahal and Harshal Patel, state-mates from Haryana, topped off a memorable night with emphatic bowling spells. Chahal picked up 3 for 11, while Patel bagged a hat-trick (inclusive of the key wickets of Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard). It consigned Mumbai Indians to their third straight loss in the UAE-leg of the tournament, their title defence hanging by a thread.
Kohli’s milestone in eventful powerplay
Dropped on zero by Rahul Chahar at deep square leg, Kohli looked in ominous touch upfront despite the early loss of Devdutt Padikkal. He kept finding boundaries off the pacers, some streaky, others imperious. Jasprit Bumrah was among those who bore the brunt, at one stage being deposited for six towards the short square-leg boundary that made Kohli the first Indian – and just the fifth overall, after Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Shoaib Malik and David Warner – to get to 10,000 T20 runs. The shot of the evening, however, was Kohli’s shovelled-six over long-on off Adam Milne’s fourth-stump half-volley. After five overs, Royal Challengers were well placed at 44 for 1.
Bharat, Maxwell turn on the heat
KS Bharat is the latest experiment in what has been a bit of a roulette at No. 3 for RCB, with Rajat Patidar and Shahbaz Ahmed previously tried and benched. After a forgettable first outing, he shredded pressure with some delightfully executed slog sweeps, dispatching Chahar twice over deep square leg. Bharat fell soon after the second of those hits, lofting to wide long-off for a 24-ball 32, with Chahar giving him a bit of a send-off.
Maxwell’s fifty and Bumrah’s death-overs mastery
Maxwell walked in and didn’t let the surface or the lack of pace dictate his thought processes, instead trusting his own game – he had the belief to execute his switch-hits against the spinners, twice peppering the shorter boundary. Before that, Hardik Pandya had let off Kohli on 37, dropping him at point, and then Mumbai burnt a review on Maxwell. It told you of their desperation. Kohli would bring up his fifty off 40 balls – his scoring rate slowed significantly in the second half of his innings – before falling two balls later.
AB de Villiers tried to offset that loss, swatting Bumrah for six off his second ball even as Maxwell merrily reverse-scooped and reverse-ramped his way to a 33-ball half-century. Bumrah then came back to remove both dangerous batters off successive deliveries, with eight balls left in the innings. Before Bumrah’s 19th over, ESPNcricinfo’s Forecaster projected a total of 180 for Royal Challengers. Then, he and Boult delivered two fine overs that meant they finished 15 fewer than that. Bumrah finished with 3 for 36 and, between them, Mumbai’s two premier pacers had combined figures of 8-0-53-4.
In what could worry the Indian team management, Hardik, who missed the first two games in the UAE, didn’t bowl a single over and, later, looked off colour with the bat.
Rohit, de Kock in murderous mood
Mohammed Siraj breathed fire, touching 147.4kph and swinging it late, in a tight over upfront, but a Kyle Jamieson no-ball proved the signal to change momentum for Mumbai. Rohit Sharma ticked off three successive boundaries in that 17-run over from Jamieson. Royal Challengers could’ve had a wicket in the fourth over, had Siraj managed to effect a direct hit at the bowler’s end to find de Kock short of his ground going for a quick single. de Kock took advantage of that life immediately, dispatching Dan Christian for successive boundaries as Mumbai raced to 51 for 0 in five overs.
Chahal, Maxwell apply the brakes
Four balls is all it took for Chahal to leave his stamp on the game as he foxed de Kock in flight and had him hole out to the longer boundary at deep midwicket in the seventh over. With Christian looking off colour, Kohli brought on Maxwell, possibly to complete that four-over quota, and the move worked, as he dismissed Rohit in his second over.
Two balls earlier, Rohit had a mini scare when he copped a painful blow on his left wrist when a rocket hit from Ishan Kishan struck him even before he could take evasive action. Did this result in Rohit’s lack of power as he tried to muscle Maxwell down the ground? He ended up dragging one to wide long-on, and Royal Challengers suddenly had a grip on Mumbai. Three balls later, Kishan, deceived in flight and turn by Chahal, sliced one to short third man to fall for a 12-ball 9. Mumbai were 81 for 3 in 10.3 overs.
They needed a sense of calm at that point, but Krunal Pandya, sent up the order, struggled against some impressive back-of-the-hand slower ones from Harshal. He pottered to 5 off 10 before he was beaten, going for a desperate heave, to give Maxwell his second wicket. Maxwell finished with 4-0-23-2 to go with his fine half-century.
Harshal joins the party
On the same surfaces in IPL 2020, Suryakumar Yadav, Mumbai’s designated No. 3, and was in the form of his life. A year on, he’s searching for form and, seemingly, confidence. The shot he played to get out suggested this, as he reached out to a full and wide off-cutter, one that he may have otherwise left, to slice a catch to short third man. At 97 for 5 in 14.1 overs, the chase was cracking.
Then came Harshal, the season’s highest wicket-taker so far, and he closed the game off by delivering a memorable third over that brought him a hat-trick. His scalps – Hardik, Pollard and Rahul Chahar – all fell prey to his slower variations. Hardik mistimed a hoick, Pollard was bowled looking to walk across and tickle fine, and Chahar missed a dipping slower one that would’ve crashed into leg stump. Chahal and Harshal, the Haryana boys, by then had combined figures of 7 for 28. The resigned look in the Mumbai camp told you a story.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo