After four consecutive defeats in IPL 2015, all that the Mumbai Indians had was the nadir of their morale. Even after the toss, Rohit Sharma looked far from convincing, when he uttered some practiced lines in reply to a question of a media person. Therefore, the victory against the Royal Challengers Bangalore on Sunday night in an away-game brought a breath of fresh air for the team that was losing match after match after the first at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens on April 8, 2015. In each of their losses, it was the failure of MI’s top order batsmen that helped their opponents. Misfortune also chased them in the last match against the Chennai Super Kings, when they had the defendable total but CSK’s powerful first order batsmen denied them in the end. On Sunday night, Rohit Sharma lost the toss and had to bat first yet again after failing on two previous occasions, when he had opted to bat after winning the toss. If anything, Rohit too would have preferred to bowl first and take his chances in the chase but Virat Kohli sent Mumbai Indians first.
For a change, however, MI’s top order batsmen pulled themselves together and there was no collapse in the initial overs. For the small congregation of the MI fans at Bangalore’s M Chinnaswamy stadium, the treat was provided by Lendl Simmons and Unmukt Chand, both of whom scored fifties and laid a solid foundation after Parthiv Patel was taken out early. Later on, a blistering 15-ball 42 from Rohit Sharma and a brave 6-ball 16 from Hardik Pandya helped in taking the score beyond the psychological mark of 200. In the end, MI finished with 209/7 and made things a little too tight for RCB. With danger man Chris Gayle removed by a Harbhajan special after the MI bowler had earlier accounted for Manvinder Bisla, MI were on course from the start. RCB barely managed 60/2 at half-way stage and they looked in definite trouble. Suddenly, the match came alive, when AB de Villiers appeared on the scene. Even after AB’s departure, Wiese and Abdulla forged ahead with a vengeance. But they suffered from the slowdown early on and MI romped home with an 18 run victory.
Virat Kohli opted to take the field after winning the toss and Mumbai Indian openers Lendl Simmons and Parthiv Patel came out to open. For a change, MI didn’t suffer from slowdown that used to be brought about by early loss of wickets. Parthiv Patel’s was the first wicket that fell after he had scored 12 off 11 balls. Simmons was in control and in the new man Unmukt Chand, he found a worthy partner. The two guys took the score to 119 in the 14th over, when Simmons got out. But Rohit Sharma and Unmukt Chand stroked well over the next few overs to take the total to 182 in the 18th over. Sharma had ceded the strike to Chand, who used the opportunity to reach 58 off 37 balls. Somehow Pollard and Rayudu couldn’t get going but Hardik Pandya made a useful 16 off 6 balls and Mumbai finished their 20 overs at 209/7.
Chasing 210 runs could have been a lot easier if Chris Gayle had been around. For a change, Kohli dropped himself down the order and sent Manvinder Bisla with Gayle to open the innings. Somehow, Gayle looked a ghost shadow of his known self as he hung around for 24 balls in scoring just 10 runs that neither had a six nor a four. Bisla looked better than Gayle in scoring 20 off 16 balls. But Harbhajan removed both openers in quick succession and when Kohli was also taken in the 11th over; RCB tottered at 62/3. Reaching 210 from there was too difficult even with de Villiers explosive 11-ball 41. But David Wiese and Iqbal Abdulla showed great enterprise towards the close and scared MI in the last 2-3 overs. Wiese scored a fluent 25-ball 48 and Abdulla contributed 20 off 15. To RCB’s credit, they could hoist themselves to 191/7 after 20 overs and allowed Mumbai Indians their first victory this IPL season.