All teams prepare for Chris Gayle only when they play RCB. And why they should not!! In today’s RCBs innings the importance of Gayle was again on fore, and he proved why he is the Tendulkar of T20. While wickets were tumbling on other end, he kept his cool. Till 7th over he has scored only 4 runs facing 12 balls. His 15th ball saw his first boundary too. And after that he remained unbeaten to take RCB to a decent total of 156/5.
Sent to bat first by Mumbai Indians, despite the slow start his 13th IPL half-century needed only 38 balls. And in the end he had scored 92 valuable runs facing 58 balls with 11 boundaries and 5 sixes. Rest of the batsmen faced 62 balls, gave away 5 wickets and scored 49 runs. Wicketkeeper Arun Karthik showed good signs for future remaining unbeaten on 20 runs facing 19 balls. Captain Virat Kohli came when Dilshan’s off stump was forced to tumble by Johnson after he failed to score on 8 balls. As Mahela started against KKR after same kind of dismissal of DDs 1st wicket, Kohli started with a boundary and then as he faced the first over of 19 year old IPL debutant Jasprit Bumrah, he got into full flow hitting the first four balls for three boundaries and scored a quickfire 24 runs on 14 balls with 4 boundaries.
But Sachin’s find and Ponting’s selection, the Gujarati boy Bumrah was not to be scared. On the 5th ball of his first over of IPL after being hit for 12 runs already, he had Virat plumb. His unusual bowling style trouble Gayle too, but he survived. Mayank Agarwal (1 run on 5 balls) and Karuna Nair (duck after 3 balls) were not so lucky. Bumrah finished with a memorable debut of 32/3. The best part was his aggression when he got Kohli after being hit for three boundaries. Kohli, who is known to display aggression often, would not have loved to be on the receiving end though.
Ponting has three master strokes today to let the depleted bowling attack look effective and all worked. Johnson, Jacob Oram and Bumrah. First in place of injured Malinga, he introduced Johnson as the lead bowler, who was not considered in form at international level. 1/15 in 3 overs that included a very good opening spell of 2 overs justified his decision. His second decision to go with youngster Bumrah instead of some other Indian bowler probably became the game changer.
Although the generally miser Munaf Patel was taken to cleaners in his last 2 overs, his first two overs just produced 8 runs and he ended expensively on 40/0 in 4 overs.
Harbhajan Singh was a revelation finishing on 21/1 in 4 overs. Jacob Oram, who was mostly rested earlier by Mumbai Indians, was another surprise selection and with 22/0 in 4 overs he must have made his captain more than happy. Pollard’s 1 over resulted into 15 runs.
But then someone had to pay for Gayle’s initial silence. Munaf Patel and Pollard paid for that. Still Ponting’s Mumbai Indians have an upper hand chasing 157 runs. Who would have imagined the total to be below 160 runs when Gayle remained unbeaten!!! So Gayle prevailed, but Ponting has sailed well in the bowling part of his captaincy.
Now he is all set to open the inning with Tendulkar and MI will pray that after Jayasuriay and Tendulkar they may have them as the settled dashing and stable opening pair. They need a good opening pair badly if they have to win the tournament.
The young captain Kohli has a big challenge to defend 156 runs with Muralitharan, Murali Kartik, Vinay Kumar and Unadkat as the main bowlers, and Christian, Dilshan and Gayle to be used as and when required.