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IPL 2016, RCB vs MI: After bowlers show, Kieron Pollard-Jos Buttler sink RCB

Chasing 152 for a win, Kieron Pollard and Jos Buttler smashed unbeaten cameos of 35 and 29 respectively to share 55 runs from just 3.3 overs.

IPL 2016, RCB vs MI, MI vs RCB, RCB MI, MI RCB, Kieron Pollard, Jos Buttler, Pollard MI, MI Pollard, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mumbai Indians, Cricket Jos Buttler sealed the game in fine fashion – with a six. (Source: BCCI/IPL)

Synopsis: Royal Challengers Bangalore’s superstars fail, but KL Rahul shows character and Baby bats like a man. Scintillating hitting from Kieron Pollard and Jos Buttler at the death, however, takes Mumbai Indians over the line with eight balls to spare

Superstars fail

A square drive off a fast bowler, opening the face of the bat and bisecting the short third man and backward point; no one plays the shot better than Virat Kohli in world cricket. So, keeping Harbhajan Singh at wide slip appeared to be more of a defensive option. Mitchell McClenaghan’s first ball pitched wide outside the off stump and the Bangalore captain almost instinctively opened his bat face. The ball went straight to Harbhajan. Nine times out of ten Kohli would play it past the fielder, but it was one of those days, when he got out to a single digit score – his first in T20s in two-and-a-half months. For the opposition, it was like winning a lottery. Chris Gayle had replaced Travis Head for this game to add more muscle at the top. The big man looked rusty. He steered Tim Southee down to backward point fence but departed next ball, trying to clear mid-off and perishing to a running catch from Rohit Sharma.

For Mumbai, there was still a small matter of seeing off AB de Villiers. The South African master decided to bide his time against some very good bowling from Jasprit Bumrah, Krunal Pandya, Harbhajan Singh and McClenaghan. Bangalore had crawled to 25/2 in six overs; their lowest Powerplay score in this IPL. Early wickets forced de Villiers to be a little cautious. He eventually opened his shoulders with a six off Harbhajan but got a life next ball as the off-spinner put down a very difficult caught and bowled chance. That didn’t prove costly, for Pandya removed him – he had the prize scalp in the first leg as well – in the next over as Ambati Rayudu grabbed the mishit at deep midwicket. The left-arm spinner can be deceptive off the deck. He returned with 1/15 in four overs. Shane Watson fell prey to a direct hit from Rohit and at 98/4 after 15.3 overs, it was up to Rahul to help his team post a fighting total.

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Rahul shows character

The young Bangalore batsman returned to the dug-out battered and bruised. He braved a twisted ankle as well to remain 68 not out in 53 balls. At Wankhede, Rahul had been hit on the helmet by a McClenaghan bouncer. Little wonder then that the Kiwi went on a short-ball overdrive this time around. The 15th over was full of excitement. The left-arm quick started off with a bouncer and Rahul’s mistimed hook went to the backward square leg boundary. McClenaghan hit the deck harder and almost flattened the batsman. A fullish delivery followed and Rahul got under it and dispatched it over the bowler’s head for a six. McClenaghan returned to his ‘natural’ length, but Rahul unleashed a pull to the deep square leg fence. The young man showed character.

Baby bats like a man

The 27-year-old middle-order batsman is keeping Sarfaraz Khan out of the playing XI because of his better fitness level. But with slog overs approaching, his arrival at the crease, ahead of Stuart Binny, must have raised a few eyebrows. Ten balls hence, the Chinnaswamy crowd started to serenade him with ‘Baby, Baby’ chants. Rohit brought in Kieron Pollard for the 18th over despite the fact that Harbhajan still had one more at his disposal. Rahul hit a six in the first ball before taking a single. Then, Baby took the big West Indian to the cleaners with back-to-back sixes and a four. It was a 23-run over. Baby’s 13-ball 25 not out lifted Bangalore’s spirits.

Scintillating hitting

Mumbai went into the second strategic time-out with 55 runs required off the final five overs. Pollard and a well-set Rayudu were batting. Varun Aaron began with a wide, but got Rayudu in the next ball, thanks to an excellent diving catch from de Villiers at long-on. Aaron conceded three singles and a wide in the next four balls before Jos Buttler ramped him over ‘keeper for a four. Forty-four required from four overs and Pollard laid into Shane Watson. A six went 10 rows back over the long-off boundary followed by a top-edge four to third man fence and another four past deep square leg. The Trinidadian more than made up for his bowling profligacy, playing a match-winning hand.

Buttler was even better, remaining unbeaten on 29 off 11 balls. Consecutive sixes off compatriot Chris Jordan in the 18th over tilted the balance completely in Mumbai’s favour. Bangalore had posted 151/4, their lowest in this edition of the tournament. But it wasn’t not a typical Chinnaswamy pitch; slower and drier. Rohit’s dismissal in the 10th over meant special efforts were needed at the back end of the innings. Pollard’s brute force and Buttler’s hitting range did the job.

 

First published on: 12-05-2016 at 00:19 IST
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