A superbly calculated assault by Suryakumar Yadav and Nehal Wadhera overshadowed a brilliant batting show by Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Glenn Maxwell and Faf du Plessis to help the Mumbai Indians ease to a six-wicket win in the Indian Premier League at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday.
In pursuit of a target of 200, Yadav smashed 83 off 35 balls (7×4 6×6) at a strike rate of 237.14 to win the Player of the Match award. When he finally fell, trying to hit his seventh six, MI needed just 8 off 26 balls to win. The third-wicket partnership between Surya and Wadhera (52* off 34 balls) was worth 140 off 66 balls and took the match away from RCB at a very rapid clip. With their sixth win, MI moved to the third spot in the table with 12 points.
After Ishan Kishan gave them a rollicking start with a 21-ball 42, Yadav and Wadhera kept the equation in check with a smart display of batting, finding the boundaries by picking their gaps well before shifting gears. They took control after coming together at 52/2 to help MI reach 99/2 in 10 overs. The senior pro shifted into top gear from there on to reach his half-century in 26 balls. The century of their partnership was reached in 53 balls to take the total to 150 in 13.3 overs.
All eyes, though, were on Rohit Sharma when MI started their chase. After dropping himself down to No.3 against Chennai Super Kings on Saturday, the MI captain, who had managed only five runs in his last four IPL innings, returned to the top of the order. But he had another forgettable outing, falling for 7, trapped leg before by spinner Wanindu Hasaranga.
The Maxwell-Faf show
During RCB’s innings, Maxwell and du Plessis showed why they are rated as two of the most devastating batters in T20 cricket. Maxwell smashed 68 off 33 balls with eight fours and four sixes (strike-rate 206.06) and du Plessis, 65 off 41 balls with five fours and three sixes (SR: 158.53), to power RCB to a total of 199/6.
RCB had lost two early wickets, they were up against MI’s best spinner, Piyush Chawla, and the onus was on them to set the target at the Mumbai ground where no total is safe enough. The two seasoned IPL campaigners, though, were unfazed by the challenges.
The home team had a missed opportunity when they dropped Du Plessis on zero. The RCB opener flicked a low full-toss from Jason Behrendorff uppishly but Nehal Wadhera put down a fairly routine chance at short midwicket.
Behrendorff had provided MI a dream start with two early wickets, including Virat Kohli, once Maxwell joined forces with his captain at the start of the third over, the Mumbai bowlers came under heavy fire. Their 120-run partnership came off just 62 balls. It was their fourth 100-plus partnership of the season. Maxwell said they were happy with the score.
“Me and Faf have had some nice partnerships, so it was very enjoyable,” said Maxwell. “I think it was around a 200-wicket, but there were a few balls that kept low. You try and play the conditions as much as you can. I was really committed today and super positive in my mindset. I tried to play the field and tried to back my instincts.”
The highlight of their third wicket partnership, however, was how they negated the threat posed by leg-spinner Piyush Chawla.
Chawla has been MI’s standout bowler this season, he went wicketless for 41 runs. In a bid to control the RCB top order, captain Rohit gave him the new ball. But, he was unable to make any impression on Maxwell and Du Plessis. The RCB captain was hitting him down the ground while Maxwell was messing him up with his strokes square of the wicket. The pick of the Australian’s shots was an audacious reverse hit over cover for six to a flattish leg-break.
The difference they make to the RCB batting was seen in how MI pulled things back once their partnership was broken in the 13th over. After Behrendorff deceived Maxwell with a slower ball, MI picked up two more quick wickets. Kumar Karthikeya bowled an excellent 14th over, conceding just five runs and getting the wicket of Mahipal Lomror. Cameron Green provided further lift to the hosts with the scalp of Du Plessis on the first ball of the 15th over. From 131/2 in 12 overs, it was 152/5 after 15 overs.
It ensured the visitors couldn’t capitalise on the slog overs. Going at nearly 11 per over till the 12th, RCB could manage just one 10-plus over of their last seven — the 15 runs they got in the 18th over off with Dinesh Karthik hitting two fours and one six off left-arm spinner Kumar Karthikeya.