Bangalore v Mumbai, IPL 2013, Bangalore April 4, 2013

The perfect advertisement for the IPL

A match featuring three all-time greats, the world's most destructive Twenty20 batsman on song, a little-known youngster making an impact and a last-ball finish

Less than three weeks ago, 19-year-old Gujarat medium-pacer Jasprit Bumrah hadn't played a single game at the senior level. Yet there he was on Thursday night, ball in hand for Mumbai Indians at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, with more than 35,000 raucous fans screaming for him to be clobbered around the park. If the largest crowd he had ever faced wasn't enough to faze him, he was up against the anointed prince of Indian cricket, Virat Kohli, and the format's most destructive batsman, Chris Gayle.

His first ball was short and wide, and Kohli pounded it over point for four. If the nervy youngster needed some reassurance, he got it from one of the most successful players around, and one who knows all about hostile crowds as his captain Ricky Ponting ran up from midwicket to give him a pat of encouragement. Bumrah's next ball too was wide, and Kohli stabbed that through the off side for four more. This time there was a quiet word of advice for Bumrah from the biggest drawcard in the game, Sachin Tendulkar.

Things quickly got better for Bumrah, whose awkward action as he delivers from wide of the crease can disconcert batsmen, as he had Kohli lbw, and added two more victims to finish with 3 for 32. Bumrah was living the dream of a young cricketer, playing with and against cricketing royalty, his every move tracked by a boisterous full house and watched by millions on television. For a tournament whose trophy has 'where talent meets opportunity' etched on it, there couldn't have been a better demonstration of that motto.

There were plenty more reasons why the game between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians was the perfect advertisement for the IPL. The league may like to project itself sometimes as an avenue for India's journeymen cricketers, but it is always been far more enamoured with the superstars of the game. Even without the most lethal bowler in Twenty20s, Lasith Malinga, and the best all-format batsman in the world, AB de Villiers, Thursday's encounter served up an unmatched star cast.

Topping that list were the ageing all-time greats, Ponting and Tendulkar, for years rivals for the tag of the world's leading batsman, the most prolific scorers in the history of both Tests and ODIs. When Ponting had his golden run in the mid-2000s, some Tendulkar fans yearned for the Australian's failure as he closed in on some of the towering records of their idol. Yet here the pair was, knocking gloves and discussing the field as they went out to bat, hoping to solve Mumbai Indians' long-standing opening problem. As a placard said, "Tendulkar and Ponting batting together for the first time, I was there."

If watching those two legends batting together was a touch surreal, there was an added wow-factor when the greatest wicket-taker the game has known, Muttiah Muralitharan, came on to bowl to them. Murali's first over had you reliving past battles in your mind - his first ball went straighter than Ponting expected and nearly dismissed him, two balls later Ponting survived an lbw appeal, before Tendulkar manufactured two lofted boundaries to end the over. The placard had changed to, "Tendulkar and Ponting batting together, Murali bowling, now I've seen everything."

The game, though, wasn't just a nostalgia-fest. Gayle is currently the world's most sought-after Twenty20 batsman, and the sight of him smiting sixes out of the Chinnaswamy is as sure a sign that summer has arrived in Bangalore as the rising temperatures. Over the past couple of years, his fanbase has expanded as quickly as his wallet, and he duly delivered what the expectant faithful turned up for. Even though he was hobbling on one leg for much of his innings, he produced another hour-and-a-half of casual destruction, including an incredible six off Munaf Patel, when he shifted his weight onto the back foot but still managed to power the ball over long-on.

Then there was the most prized facet of a Twenty20 - the tight finish. With four overs to go, Royal Challengers seemed to have the match locked up, with Mumbai Indians needing 51 off 24. Dinesh Karthik brushed aside that notion with three successive sixes off Dan Christian - the Australian is certain to have nightmares about bowling to a Karthik in Bangalore, having conceded a game-losing final-ball six to Arun Karthik the last time he played in the city.

Despite Dinesh Karthik's best efforts it came down to the final over, and the final ball. For all the international stars around, the responsibility of closing out the match for Royal Challengers fell on Vinay Kumar, captain of the local Ranji side. Vinay struck off successive deliveries to swing the game again, and Kieron Pollard couldn't slam the final ball of the game for a boundary, giving the home side victory.

There will be carping over Pollard's position in the batting order, and whether Tendulkar and Ponting can form a fruitful Twenty20 opening partnership, but after the tepid opening game in Kolkata, this was the just the sort of match the IPL's marketing machine would have prayed for to jumpstart the season.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on April 6, 2013, 6:05 GMT

    a super match, yes it was. the player mix was awesome. a tight match is what gives you the goose bumps. it was a very good advertisement for IPL6. hope to see more such matches and would like to see Sachin, Pointing & Dravid winning the matches single handedly for their respective teams.

  • zaf on April 6, 2013, 4:47 GMT

    IPL management should play fair game & add world class PAK players.

  • nahush on April 6, 2013, 1:17 GMT

    pollard shud come in to bat just before 15 that he can settle in by facing at least 10 balls and then finish the game. It wud not have been a bad idea if pollard was sent instead of rayudu with karthik. And Pollard himself doesnt like to bat higher.

  • Dummy4 on April 5, 2013, 19:19 GMT

    i remember that last ball sixer... i was praying and when that shot cleared the ropes, i fell out of my seat... just an amazing finish to a superb match.

  • Aditya on April 5, 2013, 15:56 GMT

    The are several problems with Mumbai Indians: 1. They are the slowest in the first 6 ov. in IPL. Rarely hv they got a blazing start. 2. In a chase the bat too slow in the middle overs and stack up huge amount of runs in last 5 overs. 3. Pollard hs to bat higher. Why would u waste a man like him to play 2 balls or an over. He should be permanent at 2 or 3. As my favourite team, I would wish MI all the luck and hope they recover these problems.

  • Harmon on April 5, 2013, 15:15 GMT

    @venky85 and others:

    Guys how can you NOT remember THAT match? That match has to be one of the best ones I've ever seen. Tait was wonderful in that match but RCB kept scoring runs due to Gayle/Dilshan/Kohli's brilliant stroke-making. Above all, I vividly remember the last ball of that match. RCB needed a 6 and I remember that just before Kartik faced that last ball, he kind of closed his eyes and looked for some extra energy inside himself. I remember the way DC's right leg went away while delivering that last ball and the mighty heave Kartik gave to that ball. Just at that moment, I remember how my heart was pounding like a ship's piston. For some reason, I had not felt that nervous even during the WC final. This was one of the best matches ever--- WC 99 SF, SA-Aus's J'berg match, the two India-Pak WT20 07 matches and this one.

    I could watch these 4-5 matches non stop for days. (And guys don't go after venky85 too much, he merely made a simple comment :-) )

  • Ganesan on April 5, 2013, 13:31 GMT

    What a great ending. This is the fun part of T20. The matches are short in duration and it is always exciting. Why do people bash T20. The traditionalists (who love 5 day matches) don't understand that people don't have 5 days to sit and watch a test match. Short, sweet and exciting that's T20. Kudos to IPL for bringing world class players together.

  • vas on April 5, 2013, 9:06 GMT

    I also wondered why so few Players are good at bowling Yorkers. Yorkers are hard to score off, unless you are Dhoni and have a helicopter shot........

  • soumyas on April 5, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    superb article on yesterday's match, it has every bit of what i felt yesterday...

  • Dummy4 on April 5, 2013, 6:09 GMT

    Are bowlers not allowed to bowl yorkers in the IPLl? In the 2 games, if i recall correctly only one yorker was bowled that was the last bowl of the match between RCB and MI. even last year except for malinga i dont think any one hardy bowled a yorker