Over the course of the Indian Premier League 2013, there have been several versions of Mumbai Indians who have turned up on the field. The team that came out to decimate Royal Challengers Bangalore by 58 runs at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday (April 27) was, by some distance, the most intimidating and clinically destructive.
A relentlessly dominating batting performance gave Mumbai a formidable total of 194 for 7, and a high quality bowling show ensured Bangalore were kept to just 136 for 7. As a contest, the match was settled in a six-ball period in which Bangalore went from 37 for 1 in 6.4 overs to 43 for 4 in 7.4 overs. The three batsmen dismissed - Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers.
Gayle fell to Harbhajan Singh, prompting the offspinner's own version of Gangnam-style celebrations. But Mitchell Johnson and Lasith Malinga, who were spot on and fired up at the start, could claim some of the credit for tying Gayle down and leading to the heave that Ambati Rayudu caught with poise at the deep mid-wicket fence. In the next over, Dhawal Kulkarni, handed his first game of the tournament, bowled like a dream, hitting the perfect channel to have as accomplished batsmen as Kohli and de Villiers poking uncertainly to be caught behind.
Kulkarni had earlier accounted for a struggling Tillakaratne Dilshan, and his eventual figures of 3 for 19 in four overs ensured that his first match this season wouldn't be his last.
With the cream and backbone of the batting gone, and an asking rate of more than two runs per ball, there was little the lower middle order could do except narrow the margin of defeat.
That the margin wasn't a good deal higher had to do with Bangalore pulling things back slightly towards the end of Mumbai's innings. Mumbai had looked set for a total comfortably above 200, dominating from the start and never letting up, when Kohli scored with two successive direct hits and Kieron Pollard fell off the next ball, giving Bangalore three wickets in three balls in the 18th over.
Until then, the Mumbai line-up of Sachin Tendulkar (23 off 13), Dwayne Smith (50 off 36), Dinesh Karthik (43 off 33) and Pollard (34 off 16) had been in complete command.
There is nothing quite like a packed stadium in India cheering one if its heroes hoarse, and it peaks when the player is Tendulkar and the venue Mumbai. Tendulkar gave the crowd good reason to clear their collective throats, starting Mumbai's innings with four boundaries in a Ravi Rampaul over - the third of the innings - to four different areas of the ground.
Once Tendulkar fell, Smith took up the mantle, dispatching Vinay Kumar in the arc between long-on and deep midwicket, with two sixes punctuated by a boundary in an over that yielded 19 runs, and after ten overs, Mumbai were 97 for 1.
Smith fell soon after completing his second successive half-century, and Rohit Sharma was run out in a mix-up with Karthik, hitting a sumptuous cover drive and turning back for a second only for Karthik to stop belatedly.
After that, Pollard's meaty hits propelled Mumbai, until Kohli's direct hits sent back Karthik and Rayudu. That period might have buoyed Bangalore at the break, with the belief that they had the momentum and a strong batting line-up. As it turned out, it was Bangalore's only period of dominance on the field. That it lasted all of one over told the story of the match pretty well.