• AB on fire as Challengers fall six runs short

    The Mumbai Indians held off a strong fight from the Royal Challengers Bangalore in a thrilling contest at Bengaluru on Thursday that saw the crowds thrilled by the batting of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, writes SIMON LEWIS.

    Quinton de Kock and Rohit Sharma got the Mumbai innings off to a flyer, putting on 54 runs in 6.3 overs before De Kock was bowled by Yuzvendra Chahal for 23 off 20 balls.

    Sharma was second to fall with the score on 87 in the 11th over after scoring 48 off 33 balls. He received good support from Suryakumar Yadav (38 off 24 balls) and Yuvraj Singh (23 0ff 12), while Hardik Pandya weighed in with a lusty 32 off 14 balls to lift his side to a challenging score of 187-8 off their 20 overs.

    Chahal knocked over four of Mumbai’s top five batsmen in returning figures of 4-38 (econ 9.50), while Mohammed Siraj (2-38) and Umesh Yadav (2-26) were also among the wickets.

    READ ALSO: AB: Ashwin did nothing wrong

    Parthiv Patel (31) and Moeen Ali (13) helped the Challengers to 67-2, at which point the crowds were treated to the delightful spectacle of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers batting in tandem.

    De Villiers was dropped first ball to a sharp chance at slip, and he endured some nervy moments early in his innings, but he and Kohli soon settled into their routine of pushing singles, running twos hard and slapping anything off target to the boundary.

    Kohli brought up his 5000th IPL run during the innings, putting him desperately close to leading IPL run-scorer Suresh Raina on 5034 runs. Kohli fell to a mistimed hook the next ball after scoring 46 of 32 balls, having added 49 runs with De Villiers off 41 balls for the third wicket.

    As the required run rate continued to climb, De Villiers got stuck into Lasith Malinga’s third over, edging a sweep down to fine leg for four, then opening himself up to smash a six high over mid-off, and following the next ball by a pull into the crowd at mid-wicket.

    De Villiers went to his half-century off 31 balls (3×4, 4×6) and continued to dominate the bowling, an astonishing square cut-drive over cover for six being followed by a punch over square leg for six off consecutive balls from Hardik Pandya to reduce the target to 22 runs off 13 balls.

    Jasprit Bumrah then bowled a superb 19th over, conceding just five runs as well as picking up a wicket to swing the balance back to Mumbai.

    READ ALSO: Five obscure South Africans in IPL history

    Needing 17 to win off the last over, Shivam Dube slapped the first ball from Malinga for six high over mid-off and was dropped off the second ball having skied a slog down to third man. De Villiers pushed a yorker for a single, leaving nine needed off three balls. A single for Dube left De Villiers needing eight runs from two balls, but another brilliant yorker from Malinga restricted De Villiers to a single. A well directed final ball from Malinga on the stumps closed the match off, with Mumbai claiming a thrilling six-run win.

    However, TV replays showed that the last delivery should have been called a no-ball, a fact which should rightly annoy the Challengers players as well as cricket fans around the world.

    De Villiers ended on 70 off 41 balls (4×4, 6×6), a scintillating inning that must surely leave the Proteas selectors contemplating their options. As for cricket fans, the pure joy of watching De Villiers in full flow was something to warm the hearts, for he is a magician with the bat in his hand and a pure sporting genius.


    Photo: Ron Gaunt /SPORTZPICS for BCCI

    Post by

    Simon Lewis