It was the same old story for Bangalore, albeit the win. For the 35 overs of the customary 40, they were comfortably ahead in the game. However, their Achilles Heel - death bowling - was yet to be tested and Mumbai, having waited for their chance for so long, finally cashed in.
At the start of the 16th over in the run-chase, they required 90 to win. A day ago, Punjab conceded 86 off the final five overs to lose the game in Sharjah. In this game, believe it or not, Bangalore were taken apart for 89 runs in the last five overs in a big ground like Dubai to tie the game. This happened, despite Bangalore having strengthened their bowling by handing maiden caps to Adam Zampa and Isuru Udana.
The opening to pull this off was provided by a tactical blunder from Bangalore. Given the extent at which data is used nowadays, it must be a common knowledge not to bowl leg-spin to Kieron Pollard at the death. Before this game, he had struck leg-spinners at a strike-rate of 193.1 in his T20 career.
Bangalore fed the Trinidadian with back to back overs of leg-spin of Adam Zampa and Yuzvendra Chahal (17th and 18th over in the innings). Facing 10 of those 12 deliveries, Pollard struck 42 runs to bring Mumbai roaring back into the game. After setting up the chase early on, Ishan Kishan took the back seat but contributed with 7 runs off the two deliveries he faced during this little phase where the game was turned around its head. There were 49 runs in those two overs.
With 31 required off the last two overs, it was on the pacers to limit the damage to an affordable territory. Kishan took the baton back from Pollard clubbing three sixes, the third of which took him within a distance of 1 run from his maiden IPL ton. However, he perished for 99 in an attempt to finish the match off the penultimate ball with 5 required to win. Pollard finished the duties depositing Udana's innocuous bouncer for four finishing the game in a tie. In between, there were also drop catches at the boundary line spilled over for six.
It is not that Bangalore did everything wrong. It is not easy to contain Mumbai batsmen and the Bangalore bowlers kept the pressure on the opposition for 15 overs with the ball.
After 14 runs in the first over consisting of a typical Rohit Sharma pull for six, Virat Kohli's men derailed MI's run chase early with a couple of wickets. One of them was the prized wicket of Rohit himself which came off Bangalore's punt to put Washington Sundar in front of the maverick opener.
Sundar bowled an immaculate second over with three dot balls pitched in the good length area. For the fourth ball, he pitched it a little short challenging Rohit to clear the fence. The plan worked wonders on the big boundaries as Rohit found the substitute fielder, Pawan Negi at the deep square-leg.
Next over, Isuru Udana made amends for a poor first over by correcting his angle. Coming from over the wicket in his next over (3rd over of the innings), Udana sent Suryakumar Yadav for a duck who was batting with an uncharacteristic opened-up stance.
Sundar completed his quota by the 10th over finishing with figures of 12 runs in his four overs. His tight line and length also kept Quinton de Kock quiet. The left-hander who struggles to get going against spin early in his innings faced eight balls from Sundar managing only 4 runs in the Powerplay. Trying to force himself out of the quicksand, de Kock perished to Chahal in the first over post the Powerplay.
It was the same story for Hardik Pandya. He did hit one six off Zampa but failed to repeat in his second attempt to clear the fence few overs later.
Kishan, playing his first game of the season with the pressure to cement his spot in the team, was the only to keep Mumbai's hopes alive during the middle-overs phase. Mumbai scored 77 runs in these nine overs (overs 7 to 15) and the young left-hander contributed 46 of these runs. He carted Navdeep Saini for for two maximums in the 11th over to set the ball rolling for himself and completed his fifty with a swing over the mid-wicket fence for another six three overs later. He adorned his knock with nine sixes which would have cleared any ground in the world.
Moreover, his knock gave Pollard the breathing space to get his eye in. The all-rounder was 11 off his first 10 deliveries setting him up for the carnage later on.
Earlier in the day, Bangalore were fantastic with the bat. In a combined batting effort, they found a hero in every phase. Devdutt Padikkal kicked-start the innings with a couple of boundaries but it was Finch who played the aggressor's role. Getting his motor running with a sweetly timed six off Trent Boult in the third over of the innings, Finch breezed to 40 off 25 balls at the end of the Powerplay.
Bangalore's batting went through a dip in the middle overs where they accumulated only 37 runs in seven overs between over number seven and 13. The lowering run-rate was sponsored by Finch's dismissal (for a 35-ball 52) and tentative knock from the skipper Virat Kohli who batted like a shadow of himself. He trudged to 3 runs off 11 balls before lending catching practice to Rohit Sharma at cover off a flighted delivery by Rahul Chahar. A second-wicket stand of 11 runs off 20 balls allowed Mumbai to be back in the game.
But it was Padikkal's turn to shine. Having struggled to accelerate for a major part of the innings, Padikkal found his touch by smoking back-to-back sixes off James Pattinson. The shackles were broken and the southpaw completed another impressive half-century off 37 balls.
Cometh the death overs, it was AB de Villiers' turn once again. Heading into the death overs scoring 12 off eight deliveries, de Villiers obliterated Mumbai's bowling. Opposition's best bowler, Jasprit Bumrah was his main target. He deposited the Bumrah for three massive sixes in the 27 runs he scored off him from eight balls. His 55 not out from 24 balls kept Bangalore in contention for a big total. Shivam Dube finally came to the party for Bangalore vindicating his six-hitting ability. His three sixes against Pattinson in the final over elevated Bangalore to 201 for three.
Overall, a bad day for Bumrah, his second in three games so far, cost Mumbai the game. Surprisingly, he did not opt for a yorker during the regular course of play conceding 42 in his four overs without denting the opposition. When he finally bowled one, in the Super Over, it was pretty late since the target for Bangalore was only eight. Saini had bowled a brilliant Super Over allowing Mumbai batsmen only 7 runs. Although, one can always question Bumrah's decision to bowl a bouncer with the fine-leg inside the circle allowing de Villiers to guide the ball for four through a top edge. Kohli whipped a low full toss from Bumrah for four to finally end the game in Bangalore's favor.
Kishan will rue the opportunity to earn two points for his team. He struck spinners and pacers with equal disdain and batted through almost the entirety of the innings to keep his side in the contest. In the end, the heat and humidity of Dubai played its part and Kishan was not able to bat in the Super Over. De Villiers, who kept the wickets for Bangalore today apart from playing a whirlwind knock was so dehydrated that he could not walk out to collect his man-of-the-match award.
Despite a 97-run defeat against Punjab, Bangalore are off to a good start to the league by registering four points in three games and beating Mumbai only for the second time since 2016. However, they must also be aware that they got out of jail in both the games they have won so far.