As expected, Chris Gayle came to the party once again. The hard-hitting Jamaican, opening the innings for Royal Challengers Bangalore, hammered Mumbai Indians’ pacer Abu Nechim all over the park and forced him to concede 27 runs in his first over. The fate of the match was sealed and it was a matter of time before RCB wrapped it up.
The dashing West Indian left-hander showed no mercy to any MI bowler during his quick-fire knock 89 (47b, 9×4, 5×6) knock and took Royal Challengers Bangalore total to a massive 185 for four wickets in the second eliminator at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Friday.
It was a pretty difficult total to chase down and MI batsmen had to deliver their best to overcome the challenge from Zaheer Khan, Daniel Vettori and S Aravind on a pitch where batting second was never easy. Mumbai Indians succumbed to the pressure and eventually lost the match by 43 runs, dashing their hopes of reaching the IPL for the second consecutive time.
It was a strange decision by Mumbai Indians skipper Sachin Tendulkar to bowl first after winning the toss on a Chepauk track where the side batting first has won six out of seven games in this year’s IPL so far.
Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Daniel Vettori (3-19) and Aravind (2-27) got early breakthroughs and never let MI recover from the slump. Tendulkar (40) tried his best before missing a ball from RCB spinner Syed Mohammad to be stumped by wicketkeeper AB de Villers.
There was not a single solid partnership by the MI batsmen in the middle and Kieron Pollard, Ambati Rayudu and Rohit Sharma failed to deliver when it mattered most.
Gayle received immense support from rookie Karnataka batsman Mayank Agarwal 41 (31b, 4×4, 2×6) at the top. Agarwal was dropped twice — by Laisth Malinga and Rohit — but the diminutive opener looked determined to score and was not afraid while taking on the likes of Harbhajan Singh, Munaf Patel and Malinga.
Gayle is in lethal form in the tournament and he has almost single-handedly guided RCB into the final. The former West Indian skipper has made life miserable for rival bowlers in the past fortnight and it was obvious that he would go after every MI bowler on Friday evening.
His intention was clear from very first ball when he hit Nechim for two consecutive fours in the first over and ended it with a six and a four. A brilliant start by RCB put huge pressure on MI and they had no clue about stopping the man on fire. RCB should have scored 20-30 more runs but Virat Kohli (8) and Luke Pomersbach (4) could not contribute much in the middle overs.
MI’s main strike bowler Lasith Malinga was cautious in his approach while tackling Gayle and did not concede too many runs. Munaf Patel (2-27) was the only bowler who did his job well for Mumbai.