Image credit: AFP
Royal Challengers Bangalore didn’t quite do the unthinkable. In fact, they did what everyone thought they would: they returned to losing ways, in the most RCB-esque way possible, which is another way of saying they shot themselves in the foot.
Mumbai Indians were the beneficiaries. They eased to a five-wicket victory, and moved up to No.3 on the IPL 2019 table, level on points with second-placed Delhi Capitals. Again, much like everyone expected, Mumbai have put behind a poor start and are in contention for the play-offs – if history is anything to go by, they’ll win the whole thing this year.
Thought the IPL was supposed to be unpredictable?
— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) April 15, 2019
Hardik Pandya. It hasn’t been too long since the younger Pandya was being slammed for his comments on a TV talk show, but the 25-year-old has done well to emerge from it all seemingly more mature and letting his performances do the talking.
He scored a 16-ball 37* against Bangalore on Monday – the latest in a series of brisk scores that have helped Mumbai add crucial runs in the death. There have also been a few wickets, not to mention his excellence in the field.
Speaking after the match, he said time away from India – first with a ban, then with an injury – helped him get to a better mind space. He’s admitted having taken a long, hard look at himself. If the last few months have helped better Pandya on and off the field, India might have a trump card at the World Cup.
RCB being RCB. For quite a while against Mumbai, Bangalore seemed to be in control. They looked good for a total at least in excess of 180: with five balls remaining in the innings, they were 168-4, AB de Villiers having just dispatched a statement into the top tier.
Then, they pulled an RCB. De Villiers sent one towards long on, raced for the first run and turned around for the second, only to see the 25-year-old Akshdeep Nath, yet to make his international debut, signalling him to turn around.
Nath was on 2 at the time, de Villiers on 75. The youngster, who had been slow into the first run, decided against sacrificing his wicket. Kieron Pollard gathered at long on and threw down the non-striker’s stumps. De Villiers was well short.
Nath promptly holed out the next ball, and Pawan Negi followed suit soon after. Bangalore managed three runs in those final five balls. Had de Villiers still been around, they could have reasonably expected at least 10. Stupefying.
What they said
🇮🇳 🤜🤛 🇦🇺
— Mumbai Indians (@mipaltan) April 16, 2019
“AB’s wicket was important. It made a 15-run difference”
– Hardik Pandya rubbing Bangalore’s nose in it.
What they didn’t say
“Who does this kid think he is!?”
– AB de Villiers complains to Virat Kohli about Akshdeep Nath.
The Mankad, Part 2. Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals meet again, for the first time since that infamous Mankad. Keep an eye on Jos Buttler at the non-striker’s end when R Ashwin is bowling.