Kieron Pollard and Jos Buttler kept their cool to guide Mumbai Indians past Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in a crucial encounter here on Wednesday. The duo added a match-winning 55 off 21 balls, and in the process, dealt a severe blow to RCB’s chances of making it past the league stage.
With a massive Buttler maximum, Mumbai reached the modest 152-run target with eight balls to spare.
RCB, on the back of some stellar fielding, stayed in the hunt for a majority of the chase. Stuart Binny flew sideways and grabbed a Nitish Rana slice, while A.B. de Villiers plucked a catch inches off the ground to send back Ambati Rayudu (44, 47b).
At this stage, Mumbai had slipped to 98 for four, but Pollard and Buttler turned the tide. There were a few swings and misses, but the big shots did connect at regular intervals. Gradually, the two overseas players shut RCB out.
Put in, RCB scrambled to a sub-par score after its big three — Virat Kohli, de Villiers and Chris Gayle — failed to deliver. It was left to K.L. Rahul to shore up the innings, and the Karnataka lad did well to post his fourth fifty of the tournament.
Rahul showed pluck during his unbeaten 68. In the 15th over, bowled by left-arm pacer Mitchell McClenaghan, a bouncer had him in a real tangle. Rahul regained his composure immediately, and smacked the next delivery for a straight six. An imperial pull to the square-leg fence followed, as 15 runs came off the over.
His partner, Shane Watson, fell to a Rohit Sharma direct-hit soon after. This brought Sachin Baby to the crease, and he added 53 runs in quick fashion in an unfinished fifth-wicket stand with Rahul.
The Mumbai bowlers kept things tight, on a slow Chinnaswamy Stadium wicket. RCB opener Virat Kohli (7, 7b) encountered a rare failure, guiding a McClenaghan delivery to fly slip.
Gayle — drafted into the eleven after being dropped in the previous two matches — hoisted a length ball to mid-off. Rohit, who had to peddle back to get under the skier, did well to hold on. de Villiers fared better during his 27-ball 24, but more was expected from RCB’s star trio.
McClenaghan, who has 15 wickets, took the Purple Cap.