(The Times Of India)
Royal Challenger Bangalore on Friday romped into the final of the Indian Premier League by thrashing hapless Mumbai Indians by 43 runs in what turned out to be a rather lopsided second play-off.
Put into bat, RCB rode on Chris Gayle’s blistering 89 to post an imposing 185/4 and then put up a clinical bowling display to restrict Mumbai to 142/8 and set up a summit clash with defending champions Chennai Super Kings on Sunday.
RCB, who had lost to Chennai in the first play-off last Tuesday, will now get a chance to avenge the defeat in Saturday’s final at the same venue.
Gayle, who has been in rollicking form this season, blasted nine fours and five sixes in his 47-ball innings and shared a 113-run opening partnership with Mayank Agarwal (41) to set up the game for RCB at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.
Sachin Tendulkar had conjured up hopes of a successful run chase, blasting a 24-ball 40 but once he was dismissed, Mumbai Indians lost the plot completely.
Chasing 186 to win, Aiden Blizzard gave Mumbai a positive start hitting Zaheer Khan for a four past mid on in the first ball and picked up another boundary four balls later.
Tendulkar also got into the act and blasted Sreenath Aravind for a couple of four across cover and over square leg boundary as Mumbai moved to 20 for two in two overs.
Daniel Vettori then pressed Gayle into the attack and the West Indies all-rounder did well to frustrate Blizzard with his off-break as Aravind dismissed him in the next over when he tried to play a slog shot over long on.
Promoted up the order, Harbhajan used his long handle well to clobber a couple of fours and a six but his 13-run cameo was cut short by Aravind in the sixth over with Pomersbach taking the catch at deep midwicket.
Tendulkar kept Mumbai in the hunt and picked up a couple of fours off Aravind and then sent Vettori across the long on boundary but spinner Syed Mohammad had the opener stumped, beating him in the flight in the eighth over to reduce the Mumbai outfit to 68 for three in eight over.
A lot was expected from Rohit Sharma (13) but the Mumbaikar disappointed by holing out to Pomersbach in the 11th over by Vettori.
Ambati Rayudu (0) too was trapped in front of wicket in his first ball, while Kieron Pollard’s innings was cut short by a stunning catch by Abhimanyu Mithun as Mumbai slipped to 89 for six in 12.5 overs.
James Franklin (16) and Lasith Malinga (7) too couldn’t stay long as the match slipped out of their fingers.
Earlier, Tendulkar’s decision to bowl first backfired as Gayle took the Mumbai attack by the scruff of its neck and helped RCB amass 111 in first 10 overs.
The former West Indies skipper gave Bangalore a fantastic start, accumulating 27 runs in the first over off Abu Nechim studded with three fours and a six, besides a wides four behind the keeper.
Taking a cue from his partner, Young Mayank also clobbered Harbhajan Singh for a couple of boundaries through short third man in the second over.
Tendulkar then turned to Lasith Malinga but there was no respite for Mumbai as Gayle smashed his first ball through covers and then flicked one across the fine line boundary.
Mayank brought up the first fifty in 3.2 overs with a huge six over long on off Harbhajan and followed it up with a nice-looking four through point as RCB reached 57 in 4 overs.
Munaf Patel also rolled his arms but there was no difference in the result as Gayle clobbered him for a boundary between mid on and midwicket and managed to pick up another four across short fine leg.
Malinga pulled things a bit in the next over but Gayle was simply unstoppable as he blasted Patel across extra over for another four in the next over.
Rohit Sharma was then introduced into the attack but Mayank welcomed him with a four and a six as he bled 14 runs in the eighth over.
Gayle too continued his blitzkrieg punishing Pollard for another boundary in the next over to not only bring up the hundred for Bangalore but also reached his personal score of 52 in 27 balls.
Pollard finally gave Mumbai something to chew on by dismissing Mayank in the fourth ball of the 11th over but not before Rohit had dropped him in the first delivery.
However, there was no respite for Mumbai as Gayle blasted three sixes in the space of four balls spread across the 13th and 14th over.
The former West Indies skipper first sent Pollard soaring over long off in the last ball of the 13th over and then hammered Harbhajan over deep midwicket in consecutive balls as RCB reached 145 for one in 14 overs.
Gayle was dismissed by Munaf in the next over with James Franklin taking a good catch at long on but by then the damage was done. Virat Kohli (8) also couldn’t stay long and was sent packing by Nechim in the 16th over.
Malinga then pulled off a brilliant diving catch at short third man off Munaf to dismiss Luke Pomersbach (4) as Bangalore slipped to 157 for four in 16.2 overs.
However, AB de Villiers (21) and Saurabh Tiwary (8) stayed in the crease and took Bangalore close to the 200-mark.