Chris Gayle took it away!

Mumbai Indians (MI) captain Ricky Ponting said Chris Gayle’s unbeaten 92 made all the difference in their two-run loss to Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in an Indian Premier League match here on Thursday.

Chris Gayle
RCB’s Chris Gayle plays a shot en route his 58-ball 92 against Mumbai Indians at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on Thursday. PIC/Bangalore News Photos

Opener “Man-of-the-Match” Chris Gayle (92 not out, 58b, 11x4, 5x6) held the RCB innings together and helped the home team put up 156 for five, a total that nearly proved insufficient as Mumbai Indians came within a stroke of winning before finishing at 154 for five.

Bowling the 20th over with MI needing 10 runs, Vinay Kumar dismissed Dinesh Karthik (60, 37b, 3x4, 4x6) and Ambatti Rayudu (18) off the second and third balls, but more importantly, gave away only six runs off the next three to fashion RCB’s maiden win at home against the visitors.

“All our bowlers tried to bowl at him (Gayle) in different areas, bowl at his toes and wide outside the off-stump. But, being as strong as he is if anybody gets half the bat on, it does go for six,” Ponting told reporters on Thursday.

“Though he was limping most of his innings, he made the difference in the game. There is no doubt about it,” he added. Gayle hurt his knee after tangling with Harbhajan who dived for a return catch and caused the huge West Indian to fall heavily. Virtually on one leg, Gayle nevertheless did what he is good at — hitting fours and sixes.

Pollard sent late?
Asked whether it was wrong not to send the big-hitter West Indian Kieron Pollard up the order, Ponting said the team would discuss about it and make adjustments if needed for the next game.

“We did well and should have got through, but we fell a bit behind at the half-way mark. We need to analyse our game and set right the wrongs in coming games,” Ponting said.

He praised debutant Jasprit Bumrah, who picked up three wickets giving away 32 runs in four overs. “We had a good chat about Jasprit before the match and he didn’t let anyone down.”

Mumbai began the chase steadily with modern-day icons Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar putting together a 52-run partnership with risk-free batting. Not long after, Rohit Sharma (11) lost his off-stump to Vinay Kumar, attempting a wild slog and Mumbai though losing just three wickets, could not accelerate, until Karthik, in the company of Rayudu, stepped on the pedal with some thrilling hits.

Earlier, the RCB innings was a curious mixture of brilliance and the mediocrity with first Kohli and then Gayle providing all the fireworks to take the hosts to a decent total.
Aussie quick Mitchell Johnson, enjoying some movement, removed opener Tillkaratne Dilshan (0) in the third over. A brief stoppage to sprinkle sawdust in the bowler’s foot landing area seemed to have helped Bumrah to regain his bearings.

On resumption he trapped Kohli plumb in front and in the very next over, he had Mayank Agarwal (1) caught at mid-off by Tendulkar. Ponting was the aggressive of the two, even stepping out to seamers while Tendulkar looked to be in better touch that was reflected in a few classic boundary hits.

Even as the pair looked set to step up the scoring rate, Tendulkar was run out after being sent back by Ponting, who himself was stumped soon after as left-arm spinner Murali Karthik ruled him out of the crease.

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