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There couldn’t have been a more fitting end to the weekend than watching the Mumbai Indians (MI) take on the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in front of a packed Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
It was a low scoring encounter that saw RCB beat MI by seven wickets with 2.3 overs to spare. Parthiv Patel’s 57 off 45 balls and AB de Villiers’ 45 off 48 snuffed Mumbai’s hopes of a comeback after the former had lost three early wickets.
But the day belonged to Yuzvendra Chahal. At the centre of action from the first over, Chahal dropped Mike Hussey at point. Looking to make amends, he had to wait for another three overs to snap up Hussey at square leg off Albie Morkel.
Known to be a prankster during his stint with MI, Chahal must have clocked the maximum miles while carrying refreshments for his teammates in MI, and carries the distinction of having attended the most number of team meetings without playing. But Saturday afternoon was not a day to pull off a prank, as Chahal accounted for two prized wickets — Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard.
Not a great start
The start wasn’t great either. Both the openers, Hussey (16) and Aditya Tare (17) failed to forge a strong partnership. After some unconvincing shot-making, Hussey departed for 20 while Tare followed him at the stroke of the seventh over.
Facing a googly, Rohit neither played a full-blooded loft nor kept it down and spooned an easy catch to de Villiers at long-off. In the next over, Chahal struck again. Looking to go after a flighted delivery, Pollard managed to find Sachin Rana at long-on to leave MI at 70/4.
There weren’t any innings of substance after that, barring Ambati Rayudu’s 35 off 37 balls, which allowed the score to go past the 100 mark. Mitchell Starc, Varun Aaron and Chahal snapped up two wickets each. With just 115 on the board, Mumbai knew that the onus was on their bowlers.
Lasith Malinga delivered the first blow for Mumbai. The Sri Lankan unleashed his patent yorker. Spurred on by Malinga’s strike, Zaheer Khan claimed two blue-chip wickets in the space of three deliveries. First, Virat Kohli, edged a seemingly innocuous delivery, pitched short-of-length, to slip. He fell for a rare duck.
Yuvraj Singh received a reprieve off the next ball as his edge to wicketkeeper Tare was put down in what was a sitter. But Yuvraj wasn’t lucky for long. The next delivery was a beauty from Zaheer. It skidded and moved back to find him frozen in front of the wicket. Yuvraj too went for a duck, and at 17/3, MI gave themselves a chance of a comeback. But the cautious approach of Parthiv Patel and de Villiers and their unbeaten stand of 99 saw RCB through.