In a match dominated by South African stars, the batting efforts of Mark Boucher and Jacques Kallis edged the all-round contribution of Shaun Pollock, as Bangalore Royal Challengers recovered from Friday's mauling to register their first win of the tournament. Set a challenging 166 by the Mumbai Indians, Bangalore rode on an unbeaten 39 from Boucher, and his 55-run stand with Kallis sealed a five-wicket win with two balls to spare.
The absence of Sachin Tendulkar would have been a huge downer for the crowd at the Wankhede Stadium, but none of them could complain about the quality of action. The bounce on the pitch kept the bowlers interested, and the batsmen on their toes - one of them, Mumbai's Dominic Thornely, was so surprised by a Zaheer Khan bouncer that he copped a blow above the eye which required 15 stitches. Robin Uthappa and Pollock were the two major contributors for Mumbai, with Sanath Jayasuriya chipping in with a cameo at the start.
A target of 166 suggested a close finish, and that's exactly how it panned out. Bangalore had contributions from all their batsmen, though none of the top five stayed through the chase. Shivnarine Chanderpaul biffed a few before getting a painful blow on the knee, while Rahul Dravid alternated between the sublime - with glorious straight- and extra-cover drives - and the tentative - five runs from 14 balls off Pollock. Ross Taylor and Virat Kohli both made 23 in identical fashion, but when Kohli fell, the match hung in the balance, with 60 needed from 39 balls.
While Kallis played a typically patient hand, Boucher put in the decisive knock which turned the match Bangalore's way. Striking the ball freely and cleanly, he ensured the asking-rate never climbed beyond ten, and got the boundaries so regularly that the pressure slowly moved to the home team. Harbhajan Singh, the Mumbai captain, was creamed through point in the 15th over, while Jayasuriya was clubbed for a straight six. When Nehra was pulled for four and blasted out of the ground for the biggest six of the game in successive balls, the requirement had suddenly come down to 11 from 12 balls, after which the result was never in doubt.
Mumbai's innings was built largely around Uthappa's 48, which held the innings together, and a whirlwind 12-ball 28 from Pollock which turned an average total into a substantial one. The absence of Tendulkar was felt at the top of the order, as Luke Ronchi, his replacement as opener, lasted just ten balls before falling to an outstanding catch by Kohli. Jayasuriya gave every indication of making up for Tendulkar's absence, creaming the hapless Kallis for three fours - two bludgeoned down the ground, one flicked fine - and a huge six over long-on. When he fell against the run of play, run out by a direct hit from Zaheer, Mumbai needed a steady hand to guide the innings, and Uthappa played that part well.
His familiarity with the opposition bowlers - Vinay Kumar, Sunil Joshi and B Akhil are all state-mates in first-class cricket - helped him along too, as Vinay was late-cut delightfully and then hooked for six off successive balls. Uthappa improvised cleverly, moving to leg to clip the ball fine, or walking down the pitch to upset the bowlers, but he also reined in his attacking instincts, knocking the ball in the gaps during the middle overs.
When he fell just two short of his half-century, though, Mumbai only had 125 on the board with just 19 deliveries to go. Enter Pollock, who immediately turned it up a few gears. After Abhishek Nayar had creamed a straight six off Vinay, Pollock dismissed the same bowler for a four and a six off consecutive balls. Praveen and Zaheer were taken for boundaries as well, as 40 came off the last five overs. The opposition team, though, had two other South African heavyweights to seal the deal.
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo