What a difference a week makes. Last Sunday, Royal Challengers Bangalore were at the bottom of the table, had slumped to their fourth consecutive defeat, and were looking ahead to surviving without two key batsmen, Rahul Dravid and Kevin Pietersen. Now, after a thoroughly dominant performance against Mumbai Indians they are jostling for a share of the top spot. The reversal of fortunes was illustrated by the two men who blunted the powerful Mumbai bowling, Jacques Kallis and Robin Uthappa, who shrugged off their forgettable starts to the tournament with superbly paced half-centuries.
The star of the first half for Bangalore was little-known South African allrounder Dillon du Preez who had an IPL debut to tell the grandkids about, taking three early wickets with his medium-pacers. A resilient Mumbai though recovered, first through Sanath Jayasuriya's half-century before Dwayne Bravo and Abhishek Nayar slammed 48 runs off the last three overs to lift their side to what-had-seemed a competitive total.
du Preez started off with that rarest of beasts in Twenty20s - the double-wicket maiden, and it included the scalp of Sachin Tendulkar. Handed the ball in the fourth over there were a quiet couple of balls before he induced an outside edge off Tendulkar to the safe hands of Rahul Dravid at slip, to spark wild celebrations. The hint of away movement in the next delivery had Ajinkya Rahane giving catching practice to slip.
The Boys' Own story continued for du Preez in his next over, with his first poor delivery also fetching him a wicket; Duminy went for an ill-advised pull to a long hop angling away from him, only under-edging it to the wicketkeeper. du Preez's figures were a scarcely believable 1.2-1-0-3, and Mumbai were gasping at 23 for 3.
Jayasuriya then began reviving Mumbai with a steady partnership with Bravo. After a watchful beginning - he was on 11 off 20 at one stage - he broke free in the eighth over, muscling a fractionally short ball over mid-on's head, and then hammering the next delivery into the crowd behind midwicket. There were also the Jayasuriya trademarks, powerful slaps over point and some nimble running between the wickets. Despite all that, Mumbai reached the strategic time-out at an unsatisfactory 53 for 3.
Sanath Jayasuriya's average after six innings
The number of wickets picked up by Anil Kumble, the highest for Bangalore
The total runs added for the fifth wicket by Abhishek Nayar and Dwayne Bravo, a record this season
Runs scored by Jaques Kallis today, the best by a Bangalore batsman
The runs added by Kallis and Robin Uthappa for the second wicket, the second best partnership for any wicket
9 and 11
Bangalore win by nine wickets with 11 balls remaining. The second most comfortable win this season in terms of wickets and also by balls remaining in the second innings
Dwayne Bravo's economy rate, the worst for a Mumbai bowler who has bowled more than 15 overs
Bravo was following the Jayasuriya method of taking his time to gauge the pitch. There were some stylish flicks, and deft dabs to third man but it wasn't till the 18th over - 12 overs after he came in - that he hit his first boundary. Mumbai were 101 for 4 after 17 overs, but a spell of frenetic hitting from Bravo and Nayar took them towards 150, a score which has proved eminently defendable in this tournament.
As usual, Bangalore had a new combination at the top of the order, Kallis and Wasim Jaffer, but the start was completely different from those earlier in the tournament. Kallis began aggressively, with a couple of boundaries off the first over, and his response to the introduction of the bowler of the series so far, Lasith Malinga, was exceptional. He was welcomed with a clip over square leg for six, and two balls later there was a powerful uppercut - a shot Kallis used frequently all innings - for six more. Seventeen came off the over, and Bangalore had sprinted to 41 for 1 after four overs.
Jaffer fell early, bringing in Uthappa, who started scratchily against the side he represented last season. It wasn't till the spinners came on that he found his touch. On 5 off 11 balls, the pressure was beginning to tell on him but a loose over from Harbhajan Singh gave him confidence. With the asking-rate in check, both Uthappa and Kallis were content to nudge the ones and twos - there were no boundaries for nearly four overs till the 13th, but they never needed more than eight an over.
Uthappa feasted on some buffet bowling from Tendulkar in the 14th - helping himself to three boundaries - after which the result wasn't in doubt. Bravo was pounded over midwicket by Uthappa for the biggest six of the tournament in the next over, and it wasn't long before a six and a four off Jayasuriya sealed one of the biggest wins of the season.