On this day in 2011 - RCB crush Mumbai Indians to enter their second final
Having endured a difficult start to the season, RCB had managed to turn around their 2011 IPL campaign in style. Chris Gayle had slotted in perfectly like the missing piece in a jigsaw, and RCB racked up win after win. The rich vein of form had seen RCB top the league table, and that meant Bangalore got a second shot at reaching the final despite a nerve-wracking defeat to the Chennai Superkings in the first final. The Mumbai Indians stood in the way of RCB and a place in the final.
Mumbai decided to field first in the must-win game and would go on to regret their decision very soon. Abu Nechim Ahmed was tasked with bowling to Chris Gayle, and the Jamaican signalled his intent from the very first over. Gayle smashed the hapless pacer for three boundaries and a six. The nerves clearly showed on the Assam speedster, as he tried to bang in a bouncer, and the ball flew over the keeper’s head for 5 wides. RCB, thanks to Gayle had laid down a marker in the first over of a knockout game, pummelling 27 runs to deflate the Mumbai Indians.
As is often the go-to move, Mumbai brought on the off-spin of Harbhajan Singh to tackle the dominance of Chris Gayle. But, Gayle’s opening partner Mayank Agarwal handled the Punjab offie ably, as he took him for three boundaries and a six in the latter’s opening spell. Gayle and Agarwal did not let up and took 68 runs off the powerplay. There was no respite for the Mumbai bowlers as the opening duo looked in little trouble, against a Mumbai bowling struggling to find areas to bowl to the dynamic duo. The 100 of the partnership came up in 9 overs, and Gayle brought up his half-century off only 27 balls on a slow Chidambaram track in Chennai.
The opening partnership worth 113 was finally broken when Mayank Agarwal lofted Pollard’s short ball to long-on where Rohit Sharma took a comfortable catch. But, Chris Gayle was still going strong, and the mood he was in on the day, he was depositing everything into the stands. The off-spin of Harbhajan was not spared either, as Gayle planted him for consecutive sixers in the fourteenth over. RCB were going strong at over 10 runs per over by the end of the fourteenth. With his third century of the season in sight, Gayle looked to clear the mid-wicket fence, but fell slightly short, as James Franklin ran across from long-on to complete the catch and give Mumbai a much-needed breather going into the last 5 overs of the innings.
The dismissal of Gayle set off a procession of wickets, as RCB struggled to find boundaries at the death. Not a single boundary was scored off the last 5 overs, which only yielded a sub-par 35 runs. The struggles of RCB batsmen to take advantage of the death overs exemplified the importance of Gayle’s innings on a slow Chennai surface. RCB’s score of 185 was going to be difficult to chase down on such a track, even more so under the pressure of a chase in a knockout game.
Gayle’s 47-ball 89 was laced with nine boundaries and five massive sixers
Mumbai, having realized the difficulty of scoring against an older ball, started the run-chase with an intent to score quickly. The first two overs went for 20 runs as Sachin Tendulkar and Aiden Blizzard peppered the boundary twice each. Aravind gave RCB the breakthrough in his second over when Blizzard looked to hit one out of the park, only to find Mayank Agarwal at long-on. Mumbai Indians promoted Harbhajan Singh to no.3 to take advantage of the new ball and the fielding restrictions. The move seemed to be working when he clubbed Abhimanyu Mithun for a boundary and a six. However, the Karnataka seamer Aravind had the answer, and Harbhajan holed out at deep-square leg looking to pull.
Sachin Tendulkar however, was managing to find his timing. The legendary batsman found the boundary regularly with finesse and touch. Tendulkar’s innings gave Mumbai hope of putting up a serious fight. But just when Mumbai were making a comeback into the game, Syed Mohammad got one to turn past Tendulkar’s outside edge, and AB de Villiers completed a smart stumping from behind the stumps. The dismissal brought a halt to Mumbai’s momentum.
With the required rate climbing, Rohit Sharma felt the need to throw punches. But, RCB skipper Daniel Vettori was much too experienced to let him get off the hook. A well-flighted delivery tempted Rohit to go aerial, and the invitation lead to a mis-hit which was taken in the outfield. Ambati Rayudu was trapped leg-before with an arm ball for a golden duck. Kieron Pollard was Mumbai’s last hope of a resurrection. With the need of the hour being sixers, Pollard looked to clear long-on, but Mithun kept his composure at the long-on fence and plucked a one-hand stunner to send the big-hitting West Indian back to the hut.
Mumbai had lost 6 wickets with almost 100 runs more required. from just over 7 overs. The Mumbai tail wagged for a while, but the game was far gone. Mumbai could only muster 142/8 in their quota of overs. RCB won the game and reached their second final in three years with a commanding 43-run win.