(The Times Of India)
Bleed Red with RCB went one poster at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Royal Challengers Bangalore bled alright, starting with the first ball when Lasith Malinga sent rookie Mayank Agarwal’s off stump flying. After that, despite a valiant fight back by the experienced RCB duo of Tillakaratne Dilshan and Ab De Villiers, the match was headed only way, the Mumbai Indians way.
RCB skipper Daniel Vettori had said on match eve that the game against the strong MI side would help him gauge his side’s real potential and after the dismal nine-wicket loss at the nearly-packed Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Tuesday night, the Kiwi would know his side has a long way to go.
If it was a clinical bowling display by the MI bowlers, who got to bowl first courtesy their skipper Sachin Tendulkar, that restricted RCB to a modest 140, the chase by the batsmen was efficiency personified. It was the kind of in-between target that could have tested some sides but not MI, not on Tuesday night.
Tendulkar (55 not out, 46b, 7×4), as usual led the way, but it was the planned assault of fellow opener Davy Jacobs, who made the Zaheer Khan-Tendulkar contest a non-starter by smashing the left-arm pacer for two big sixes off his first two overs, that set the tone. With Ambati Rayudu then joining hands with his calm-as-ever captain, and picking on Abhimanyu Mithun, there was no way back for RCB, especially with Dirk Nannes, the man who castled Jacobs (22, 16b,2×4, 2×6) in his only over, a wicket maiden, off the field with what seemed a bad back.
MI completed the win in the 19th over, Rayudu (63 not out, 50 balls, 9×4) winning the race to the half-century with Tendulkar.
Earlier, with nearly 35,000 fans screaming their heads off , the stage was set. For young Agarwal it was meant to be a life-time experience, facing the slinger from Sri Lanka. He faced the bowler, yes, but didn’t quite see the ball; at least the bat just didn’t come down in time, and the execution was complete.
With two wickets down for a poor 19 (Virat Kohli fell skying Kieron Pollard), it was consolation time for Dilshan and De Villiers (38, 36b, 3×4, 1×6), who up against some pretty disciplined stuff from all the MI bowlers, starting with Munaf Patel whose first two overs went for a mere three runs, had no choice but play safe. That they still managed to raise 91 from 74 deliveries, went to show that there is no substitute for experience and that when you add enterprise to that, it can be a good combination.
The MI bowlers combined better though. All of them were spot on, save perhaps for Harbhajan Singh, who started a bit wayward but still recovered. Left-arm spinner Ali Murtaza was the pick as despite the bowler to be tried and targeted by the RCB batsmen, he more than held his own. Malinga was brilliant and poor in turn but then when you bowl at the beginning and at the death, you are bound to go for runs. The 16 he conceded in the final over of the innings was what gave RCB hope but in this there was nothing eternal about it. The MI batsmen dashed it all quickly.