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Royal Challengers Bangalore 142 for 1 (Gayle 82*) beat Mumbai Indians 141 for 6 (Karthik 44) by nine wickets
It wasn’t the easiest of pitches to bat on at the Wankhede Stadium, and Mumbai Indians possess the most potent bowling attack in the competition, but none of that mattered to Chris Gayle as he swung sixes on his way to the orange cap, 500 runs in the tournament and an unbeaten 82 that propelled Royal Challengers Bangalore to the fourth spot.
Victories for Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab on Tuesday and Royal Challengers’ win today has tightened the table again, with only three points separating the five teams in the middle.
Mumbai’s batting has rarely been at its best this season, and continued to struggle today. The Royal Challengers bowling has had some off days this year, but turned in one of their more impressive performances as Vinay Kumar’s double-strike in the second over and Muttiah Muralitharan’s two wickets off successive deliveries later in the innings limited Mumbai to 141.
With the ball nipping around, it seemed a competitive score, particularly given the strength of Mumbai’s bowling. Gayle and Tillakaratne Dilshan watchfully played out the main threat, Lasith Malinga, and focussed their energy on scoring plenty off the rest.
As he has been all season, Gayle was relatively cautious early on. Mumbai had two gilt-edged chances to dismiss him within the Powerplays: first, in the second over when a direct hit would have caught him well short, and then in the sixth over when Dwayne Smith put down a skier at cover. That potentially game-changing drop rounded off a horror outing for Smith, who also flopped with the bat a mere three days after his final-over heroics against Chennai Super Kings.
Dilshan was dismissed in the ninth over, and the asking rate began to climb towards nine, but it only took Gayle three deliveries to transform the match. Pragyan Ojha gifted him two friendly full tosses on leg stump which were contemptuously dispatched over the leg side; the second of those had been a no-ball as well, and Gayle dismissed the extra delivery for another six, over long-off for a change. That 22-run over brought the required rate closer to seven. Mumbai were never in the game after that as Virat Kohli found some form and helped Gayle finish it off with two overs to spare.
It hadn’t begun well either for Mumbai with Zaheer Khan and Vinay troubling their top order. James Franklin upper cut a catch to third man, and Rohit Sharma was plumb lbw later in Vinay’s over as Mumbai stuttered to 5 for 2 – the lowest score in the IPL after four overs.
Sachin Tendulkar then survived a close call for lbw, and was again reprieved when a Kohli throw from backward point was wide. Mumbai finally got some momentum in the sixth over as Tendulkar struck three successive boundaries – the first off the bat in the innings. Just as Mumbai were getting some stability, 21-year-old seamer Harshal Patel dismissed Tendulkar getting him to top-edge a pull.
The signing of Smith and the return of Kieron Pollard made the Mumbai batting seem more solid, and when Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik added 44 quick runs, the stage seemed set for a late onslaught from the two West Indians. Murali, though, removed both the well-set Karthik and Smith in the 16th over, seemingly denting Mumbai’s recovery. Harbhajan, however, swung a couple of boundaries off Zaheer and Pollard powered two sixes in the final over from Vinay to lift Mumbai, but not to a total that was beyond Gayle’s reach.