Pollard fifty overcomes Badree hat-trick
Mumbai Indians 145 for 6 (Pollard 70, Krunal 37*, Badree 4-9) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 142 for 5 (Kohli 62, McClenaghan 2-20) by four wickets
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A drier-than-usual Chinnaswamy Stadium pitch produced a low-scoring contest that included a 59-ball spell without a boundary and a Powerplay hat-trick by a legspinner. That legspinner, Samuel Badree, took 4 for 9 on his Royal Challengers Bangalore debut, and at the end of his four-over quota, Mumbai Indians, chasing 143, were 33 for 5 in eight overs.
Badree, though, was to end up on the losing side. The match-winner was another Trinidadian, Kieron Pollard, who scored a brilliantly calculated 70 off 47 balls and added 93 for the sixth wicket with Krunal Pandya to consign RCB to their third defeat in four games.
Kohli and Gayle make ponderous start
A shoulder injury had kept Virat Kohli out of action for nearly a month, but showed no signs of rust when he hit a six and two fours off Tim Southee in the third over of RCB's innings. Perhaps the most important ball of that over, however, was a dot - the last ball, to Gayle. Southee bowled it cross-seam, Gayle left it alone, and the ball kept low and bounced a second time before reaching the keeper.
Both captains had mentioned at the toss - Mumbai won it and chose to bowl - that the pitch seemed drier than usual, and Mumbai's bowlers quickly cottoned on. Harbhajan Singh bowled in the Powerplay to specifically target Gayle - before this match, he had conceded 65 off 65 to the Jamaican in the IPL, while dismissing him three times - and the seamers bowled cutters into the pitch, and found the two-paced pitch to their liking.
Aside from that Southee over, only the really bad ball went to the boundary, with Kohli and Gayle content to push the rest around for ones and twos, and RCB were 66 for 1 at the 10-over mark. Gayle fell in the 10th over for 22 off 27 balls.
Krunal snuffs out RCB's spark
RCBs were beginning to build some momentum, taking 19 off Jasprit Bumrah in the 14th over, in the course of which Kohli had reached his fifty with a six over long-off. AB de Villiers was at the crease too, and had been dropped on 7 by Jos Buttler at deep midwicket.
The unlucky bowler was Krunal Pandya, who had come on as soon as de Villiers came in, probably because he had dismissed him in both their previous meetings. The drop didn't end up costing too much - de Villiers, looking to hit him inside-out in the 17th over, failed to get elevation and Rohit Sharma caught him with a dive to his left.
In the previous over, Kohli had slapped McClenaghan straight to deep point. If RCB's' slow build-up was supposed to lead to fireworks in the slog overs, they probably didn't account for having new batsmen at the crease on a difficult pitch to start hitting immediately. As it happened, they only managed 32 for 4 in the last five overs.
Badree runs through Mumbai's top order
Given the dryness of the surface, RCB had left out the fast bower Billy Stanlake and included Badree as one of two legspinners. By now, driving on the up seemed fraught with risk on this pitch. Jos Buttler departed in the second over, flicking Stuart Binny in the air. Parthiv Patel followed in the next over, scooping Badree to short cover.
In the next two balls, 7 for 2 became 7 for 4. McClenaghan, ostensibly promoted to use his left-handedness to go after Badree, slogged a full-toss straight to long-on, and Rohit, for the second time in two matches, was deceived by a googly.
Badree bowled out by the eighth over, and ended his spell with another wicket: Nitish Rana caught at backward point, failing to keep a cut down. At this point, Mumbai needed 110 off 72 balls, with half their side gone.
Pollard, Krunal turn it around
But Mumbai would no longer have Badree to worry about. After the match, Pollard revealed that he and Krunal had targeted the other spinners, looking for at least one boundary off each of their overs to keep the asking rate in check. They managed to do this right through their partnership, while working the strike over regularly.
Five off five balls became 11 off the 10th over when Krunal muscled a wide quicker ball from Yuzvendra Chahal over the long-off boundary. Four off five balls became 10 off the 14th over when Pollard made room and lofted Pawan Negi over extra-cover. Pollard clobbered Negi for sixes off the last two balls of his next over, the 16th, and Mumbai suddenly only needed 33 from 24.
With only one over left from Tymal Mills, the rest of the last four would have to be bowled by the spinners and S Aravind. Pollard fell in the 18th over, to Chahal, but by then Mumbai only needed 17 off 15. Hardik Pandya arrived at the crease to help his brother ease them over the line.
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo