Bangalore: A jinx-breaking last-ball win, a hitherto unknown bowler who shone on the big stage, and a surreal moment when Test cricket’s highest wicket-taker bowled an over to Test cricket’s two highest run-getters, were all put in the shade by a man who hobbled on one foot during yet another match-winning innings that reiterated his status as the supreme batsman of the Twenty20 format.
Jasprit Bumrah bowled with a quirky action and struck gold, Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting walked out side-by-side and took on Muttiah Muralitharan, but Chris Gayle’s 92 not out off 58 balls ensured that Royal Challengers Bangalore beat Mumbai Indians for the first time at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on Thursday (April 4), gasping to the post by just two runs in a tense finish that saw Dinesh Karthik’s fantastic 60 off 37 balls go in vain. (Watch: NDTV's analysis of the match)
Every man, woman and child in the almost-packed stadium seemed to have a red Bangalore flag, and they were waved in abundance for Gayle, and with equal warmth for Tendulkar. In the end, the audience that would have gladly cheered a Tendulkar special in a Bangalore victory went home satisfied. (See and read: Match in pics and Stats from the match)
Put in to bat on a greenish pitch, Bangalore’s innings began with Mitchell Johnson getting prodigious seam movement and cleaning up Tillakaratne Dilshan in his second over. Bumrah had an unforgettable initiation in what was his first outing on such a big stage, being carted for three boundaries in his first four balls and then trapping Virat Kohli lbw with his fifth. Bumrah, 19, let out a primeval roar, and the wicket seemed to galvanise him. He was to finish with 3 for 32, adding the scalps of Mayank Agarwal and Karun Nair, vindicating the team management’s decision to include him in the starting XI ahead of more pedigreed bowlers. He had been the Man of the Match when Gujarat won the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2012-13 less than a week ago, and this performance, in just his tenth T20 match, promised of more to come.
Gayle, who stayed though the initial fall of wickets, didn’t find his range at the start. That changed when he was in a collision with Harbhajan Singh at the end of the tenth over and hurt his leg. Clearly in pain for the rest of the innings, Gayle just about hobbled between the wickets. The downside for Mumbai was that the injury gave Gayle the incentive to score exclusively in boundaries. On 23 from 22 balls at the time, Gayle scored 69 from 36 balls in the final ten overs of the innings.
When Mumbai batted, Ponting and Tendulkar made light of the fact that T20 was supposed to be a young man’s game, pulling out vintage shots, including Tendulkar’s straight hit past the bowler and Ponting’s front-foot pull. But when they both fell shortly after a half-century stand, Bangalore were back in the game.
However, they hadn’t reckoned with Karthik’s batting skills. Karthik was particularly severe on Daniel Christian, who has developed an unhealthy habit of conceding big runs in match-turning overs. He very nearly did it again, going for 24 runs in the 17th over, but with ten runs required off the final over, Vinay Kumar got both Karthik and Ambati Rayudu. Kieron Pollard brought nerves to fraying point when hit a straight boundary with eight needed off two balls, but he could only manage a single off the final ball, acknowledged by the sound of a stadium erupting in joy.
Bangalore have broken the jinx, and though Mumbai might have had the stronger team on paper, one man’s presence in the red Bangalore jersey ensured a fine victory.