Royal Challengers Bangalore 152 for 3 (Rawat 66, Kohli 48) beat Mumbai Indians 151 for 6 (Suryakumar 68*, Harshal 2-23, Hasaranga 2-28) by seven wickets
It didn’t work, and a middle-over meltdown left Mumbai winless after four games, leaving them at the bottom of the table alongside fierce rivals and peers Chennai Super Kings, who have an identical record and slightly worse net run rate. .
The beginning of this match gave no idea how it would go on. There was a green tinge to the pitch and the new ball moved at first, but once the shine faded, the ball pinged nicely from the bats of Rohit Sharma and Ishan Kishan. From 6 for no loss after two overs, Mumbai raced to 49 for no loss at the end of the power play.
Harshal gave Royal Challengers the breakthrough they craved in the seventh over, with Rohit being caught and bowled as the Mumbai captain charged early. That was the start of a dramatic slump as Mumbai lost six wickets for 29 runs.
Bowling was responsible for this, mainly Harshal’s dipping offcutters, Akash Deep’s hard lengths and Hasaranga’s wrong’un, who tricked Dewald Brevis and Kieron Pollard, both leaving lead feet and perpendicular lbw and playing around the ball.
And the situation in Mumbai also seemed to cause panic. Tilak Varma, who has had such a good start to his IPL career, was heading for an unnecessarily fast single and took on the swift footed Maxwell with predictable consequences.
The parallel universe
No other batter looked comfortable through the middle overs, but if there was something with two tempos about this pitch, it didn’t affect Suryakumar, who played his shots in the middle from the start. A back punch from Akash gave an early warning of his form, and two overs later he stepped out and away from the line to launch Shahbaz Ahmed inside out for six.
Jaydev Unadkat, who played his first game for Mumbai, gave steadfast support and got the best seat in the house to watch Suryakumar’s stroke play. He hit six sixes, including a slog sweep from Hasaranga and a pick-up flick from Mohammed Siraj that flew past the leg-side boundary in the back rows. But the best of them just cleared the ropes. Aware that Suryakumar was deep in his fold with an open stance to allow him access to the leg side of anything remotely straight, Siraj went full and wide, forcing him to reach for the ball. He did this and somehow sweetly made contact with an open bat-face to cut the ball over the third man line.
A brilliant last over from Harshal, who caused his slower ball to sink, gain traction and behave erratically, went for just seven, despite a last-ball full toss muscled for the last of Suryakumar’s sixes. Royal Challengers only needed 152 to win.
Rawat and Faf make a slow start
Mumbai knew they needed early wickets to have a chance. Accordingly, they threw everything they had to Royal Challengers in the early overs and used Jasprit Bumrah for two of the first six overs. Royal Challengers hit only two limits in the power play, back-to-back sixes from Rawat dancing around the track to Unadkat.
Kohli gives RCB a boost
Royal Challengers were still only needing eight and a half runs per over at the time, and Kohli, coming in at number 3, immediately began to find the limit, even as Unadkat and Pollard left their knives in the field. Kohli got out and made room to felt Pollard through the tip, then got out into the next one to knock M Ashwin into the bend, wide or long.
Basil Thampi sent a 15-run 12th across, alleviating any residual pressure the Royal Challengers might have felt. This included the shot from the innings, an effortlessly flipped six showing Rawat’s balance and timing.
Mumbai’s last hope was in the frame of Bumrah, who came in with 60 needed out of 42. Kohli closed the door to that hope in a moment that seemed symbolic, immediately judging the length of a Bumrah bouncer and slamming between long and deep centerstand. When Brevis put down the simplest catches on a deep square leg to give Kohli a reprieve in the next over, the game was almost up.
Rawat rushed Royal Challengers to their target with two more sixes, a pull off Pollard in the 16th over and a charging slog from Unadkat in the 17th. However, with only 23 needed out of 20, Rawat was knocked out by a direct hit from debutant Ramandeep Singh as he responded to Kohli’s call for a quick second.
Then Brevis, who had thrown his legpin for the first time in the IPL, gave Kohli lbw with only eight runs left. It gave the crowd at MCA Stadium – whose chants suggested it was mainly Royal Challengers supporting – a brief and satisfying glimpse of Maxwell in the fold.
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo