After an unsatisfactory outing on the road, Mumbai Indians would have sought some comfort playing at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday night.
But when the opponents are the table-toppers Royal Challengers Bangalore, you can’t let your guard down.
And the Indians had done their homework. Chasing 195, the onus was on openers Chris Gayle and Tillakaratne Dilshan.With a pace-bolstered bowling formation, they took the attack to Gayle. The Jamaican was pushed out of his comfort zone with a steady dose of short deliveries from Mitchell Johnson and Lasith Malinga.
The powerplay yielded just 35 runs, bringing pressure on the visitors.
Enter Harbhajan Singh. Gayle’s vulnerability against off-spin is not a secret. He lost his composure and launched into him.
The ball soared high and Ambati Rayudu held his nerve at the deep-midwicket boundary line to latch onto the ball.
The Mumbai Indians had pulled off a masterstroke. Harbhajan broke into a bhangra-laced Gangnam style jig, and Wankhede erupted.
In the span of five balls, local boy Dhawal Kulkarni had skipper Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers caught behind with seaming deliveries. It was curtains for the visitors at 43/4. In the end, MI won by 58 runs.
With skipper Rohit Sharma opting to bat, the team did not give Gayle and Co a chance to post a total first up.
But the match was not short of drama courtesy the mix-ups on the field and a brief verbal duel between Kieron Pollard and Kohli, which ended with a smile.
Sachin Tendulkar and Dwayne Smith started cautiously. Tendulkar was lucky to edge between slip and wicketkeeper. He made the most of the chance by hitting four fours off Ravi Rampaul.
Smith singled out Vinay Kumar to find his groove. The hard-hitting Carribbean powered Mumbai's batting with 50.
Smith showed signs of frustration early on but smacked anything pitched up. Dinesh Karthik was yet again involved in a run-out, this time with Rohit Sharma.
Ironically, Karthik was also run out later but he had anchored the innings before Pollard took centrestage.
A brief collapse in the end, aided by direct throws from Kohli, restricted Mumbai. Ambati Rayudu was run out when his grounded bat was nudged off the crease after brushing against Vinay Kumar's leg, prompting the chat between Pollard and Kohli.
Although Kohli went ahead with the appeal, the crowd jeered ‘cheater, cheater’.