Bangalore: Royal Challengers Bangalore, inspired by Chris Gayle and indebted to Vinay Kumar, made a winning start to their IPL 6 campaign in nail-biting manner by beating Mumbai Indians by two runs over at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Thursday. Defending 10 runs off the last over of Mumbai's innings, Vinay removed half-centurion Dinesh Karthik and Ambati Rayudu in consecutive deliveries before bowling a blockhole-length final ball to Kieron Pollard to send the RCB dugout into a tizzy.
The match was headed to the wire following Karthik's assault on Daniel Christian in a 24-run 17th over, but when Jaydev Unadkat conceded just seven from the penultimate the onus was on Vinay. He managed to keep his cool, and how. But Bangalore's win would not have been possible without the batting heroics of the talismanic Gayle: where the bombastic Jamaican made 92 off 58 balls, the rest of the Bangalore batsmen managed 48 off 62.
Mumbai's chase aw two legends of the modern era in Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting open the innings, which offered cricket fans a treat. Their alliance yielded 52 runs in 7.3 overs with neither really dominating, but there were a couple lovely shots from Tendulkar and Ponting that set the pulse racing. The shakiest part of their time together was the running, and when Tendulkar (23) fell agonizingly short of his crease, Bangalore had their first strike. The second and third stalled Mumbai; Ponting was stumped off Murali Kartik and Rohit Sharma bowled by Vinay as the asking rate crept up.
At 106 for 3 in 16 overs, RCB appeared to have matters in control but a 24-run over from Christian swung it back Mumbai's way. Unable to locate one length, Christian was smacked for three successive sixes by Karthik - over fine leg and long-on - before a no-ball full toss was swung past square leg for four. Off the last ball of the over, Karthik drove a single to reach his half-century in 31 balls, and then celebrated by heaving Muttiah Muralitharan over midwicket for six more first ball of the 18th over. In six balls he had jumped from 27 to 56.
A crafty 19th over from Unadkat left the equation for Mumbai at ten runs off the last six balls. A bye was followed by a wicket, with Karthik miscuing Vinay to midwicket; next ball, Ambati Rayudu had his off stump flattened; a single to Harbhajan Singh got on strike Pollard, who smacked his first ball over the bowler's head for four. With four needed off the final ball, Pollard could only push a superb yorker from Vinay for a single.
Subtract Gayle's innings and Bangalore's scorecard ready for sorry reading. Tillakaratne Dilshan was bowled by Mitchell Johnson for 0 in the third over and after Virat Kohli's exit for a brisk 24 the next three batsmen contributed five runs between them. Only Arun Karthik's run-a-ball 19 not out helped offer some stability to Gayle in a partnership of 76 in 7.2 overs.
RCB were struggling after unheralded debutant, 19-year-old medium-pacer Jasprit Bumrah, removed Kohli, Mayank Agarwal and Karun Rain, and with Gayle suffering from a stiff left leg the momentum was with Mumbai. Hampered for movement, Gayle used his crease to drill the ball hard and flat over the cover-point region or though midwicket, all with sheer power. He struggled to force the pace against Harbhajan, who conceded just 18 in 16 balls bowled to the Jamaican, but made up for it by hitting Pollard for 15 in five and Bumrah for 17 off 11. The worst to suffer was Munaf Patel who went for 32 in his last two overs with Gayle collaring him for four fours and two sixes. The last ball of the innings was carved for six over backward point by Gayle.