Victory for Royal Challengers was real challenge

News Karnataka Media Networks

Chris Gayle smashed an unbeaten 92 before R Vinay Kumar`s three-wicket burst helped Royal Challengers Bangalore eke out a close two-run win over Mumbai Indians in a thrilling Indian Premier League match here yesterday.

Asked to bat, Gayle first single-handedly powered RCB to a fighting 156 for five before Vinay Kumar (3/27) picked up two crucial wickets in a tense final over to restrict Mumbai to 154 for five.

Needing 10 runs of the final over, Vinay Kumar picked up the crucial wickets of dangerman Dinesh Karthik (60) and Ambati Rayudu in successive balls to snatch the win for RCB.

Kieron Pollard gave a late scare to the hosts when he hit Vinay Kumar straight for a boundary to bring down the equation to four off the last ball, but the RCB bowler kept his cool and gave away just one run to hand his side a winning start.

Earlier, after a relatively slow start, Gayle upped his tempo and scored his 92 off just 58 balls with the help of 11 fours and five towering sixes to take RCB past the 150-mark.

Chasing the challenging total, Mumbai made a steady start with skipper Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar putting on 52 runs for the opening wicket before both departed quickly.

While Ponting made a quiet 28 off 33 balls, Tendulkar was the aggressor among the duo scoring his 23 runs off just 19 balls with the help of four fours, two of which came of successive balls off Mutttiah Muralitharan`s opening over. Tendulkar did not take any undue risk during his knock and seemed eager to stay there till the end. But his innings was cut short when he fell prey to a close run out.

Ten runs later Mumbai slumped to 62 for two when Ponting was stumped by K B Arun Karthik off left-arm spinner Murali Kartik in the 10th over.

Talented Rohit Sharma (11) wasted yet another opportunity as the Mumbai batsman, going for a huge heave over midwicket off R Vinay Kumar, missed a straight ball which crashed on to his off stump.

With some tight bowling, RCB made life difficult for Mumbai Indians as Karthik and Ambati Rayudu found it hard to hit boundaries.

After a few hits and misses, Karthik finally broke his shackles and clobbered Christian for three consecutive sixes and a boundary to pick up 24 runs off the 17th over and also make a well-deserved fifty off just 31 balls.

But once Karthik and Rayudu`s 60-run stand was broken in the final over, the asking became too tall for Pollard and the Mumbai outfit to achieve.

Earlier sent into bat, Gayle initially adopted a wait and watch policy on a seaming Chinnaswammy track before exploding in the eight over.

Even though wickets kept tumbling at the other end, the big-hitting West Indian was hardly bothered as he went about his business in style, notching up his 13th IPL fifty and first of the season.

The start, however, was far from rosy for the home team as they lost Tillakaratne Dilshan early, bowled by Mitchell Johnson with the scoreboard reading just three.

Newly-appointed RCB captain Virat Kohli played a short 24-run cameo before he was LBW by debutant Jasprit Bumrah, who returned with the best figures for the Mumbai outfit scalping three wickets for 32 runs.

Bumrah, with a unique action, then accounted for Mayank Agarwal in his next over caught by Sachin Tendulkar.

With wickets falling at the other end, it took Gayle eight overs to break his shackles when he cracked a boundary and a six off Bumrah in consecutive balls.

After a relatively quiet first 10 overs that produced just 59 runs, RCB rode on Gayle`s pyrotechnics to score 97 runs in the next 60 deliveries. After opening up, Gayle then targeted his West Indian team-mate Kieron Pollard, picking up 15 runs with two boundaries and a six off the 11th over

Gayle and KB Arun Karthik (19 not out) shared an unconquered 81-run stand for the sixth wicket to help RCB`s cause.

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