Mumbai Indians v Royal Challengers Bangalore, IPL 2010, Mumbai March 20, 2010

Teachings from table-toppers

S Aga
The IPL is now a week old and this is what we learnt from an atmospheric top-of-the-table clash at the Brabourne Stadium

Openers win you games and trophies: Sanath Jayasuriya and Sachin Tendulkar managed just 27 from the 27 balls that they faced. Manish Pandey faced the same number and managed 40, adding 85 with Jacques Kallis for the first wicket. In the first season of IPL, Graeme Smith and Swapnil Asnodkar were instrumental in the Rajasthan Royals' success. Last season, Adam Gilchrist's 495 runs were pivotal in the Deccan Chargers' run to glory. Kallis and Pandey have already accumulated 384 runs. As long as they continue to fire, Bangalore won't be far from the top of the table.

The fringe players matter just as much: Saurabh Tiwary and Ambati Rayudu had been central to Mumbai's success in their opening two games. On Saturday, Tiwary and Rajagopal Sathish failed to kick on after bright starts, while Rayudu and Aditya Tare failed. Bangalore's Vinay Kumar took three wickets in an over, and effectively settled the contest.

Old can still be gold: Anil Kumble was magnificent once again, the most economical bowler on either side. The googly that left Tiwary flailing at air illustrated just how well he has adapted to what was an alien format two years ago. In the field, Rahul Dravid pulled off a stupendous one-handed catch on the run to dismiss Sathish. The top pros never stop learning.

He shall not be moved: Four matches in, and Kallis has 264 runs without being dismissed. More than the runs he's scored, it's the composure that has unnerved the opposition. Whether it's chasing 204 or 152, Kallis sets up the same way, and plays at his pace. There was one gorgeous late-cut and a stunning off-drive off Lasith Malinga that was worth the price of admission. He finished with another lovely straight-drive, a statement from a man who feels no need to resort to gimmick shots.

The fans get it: The fans at the Chinnaswamy Stadium have been loud and proud, and backed their team with real passion. At the Brabourne, they ratchet up the volume even more though. The chants of "Sachin, Sachin" can drive you to earplugs, and Malinga will surely not have enjoyed such backing in Colombo. Even with Bangalore cruising to victory, the crowd never lost its buzz and even the late and irrelevant run-out of Virat Kohli was celebrated fervently. On the way home, I saw at least five cabs with Mumbai Indians' flags being waved out of the window. The club culture is certainly taking root.