Chris Gayle carries Bangalore to final
Royal Challengers Bangalore may as well rename him Criss Gayle
Royal Challengers Bangalore 185 for 4 (Gayle 89, Agarwal 41, Munaf 2-27) beat Mumbai Indians 143 for 8 (Tendulkar 40, Vettori 3-19, Aravind 2-27) by 42 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
In Jamaica the term criss is used to suggest everything is all right. Royal Challengers Bangalore may as well rename him Criss Gayle. For with Gayle, they criss. Gayle fell 11 short of his third century this IPL, but for 15 overs he played so much above the game that the 37 that came in the five after his exit didn't look far off par on this surface. Mumbai struggled to replicate Gayle's impact except with the new ball when they got off to a flying start. Gayle came on then to stifle the openers with a two-run over. The pressure resulted in wickets, everything was criss again, and Bangalore were in the final of the IPL.
When batting, Gayle was assisted by Mayank Agarwal, his 20-year-old opening partner yet to make first-class debut, who scored 41 off 31 in a 113-run opening stand. Gayle will be the first one to concede, though, that he couldn't have found a more accommodating opposition. To begin with, Mumbai Indians opted to bowl on a track where sides batting first have won six out of seven games this season. Then they refused to take the bull by its horn, throwing the new ball to Abu Nechim as opposed to Lasith Malinga. It can be argued that they succeeded in the previous game with Dhawal Kulkarni bowling the first over, but surely against a side as heavily reliant on Gayle as Bangalore they would have unleashed their best bowler right away.
Nechim can still argue he hardly bowled a bad ball in that first over, but he still went for 27. The first of the boundaries came off an edge past slip, the second burst through Sachin Tendulkar at mid-off. Nechim, though, bowled length, and Gayle took six, two and four off the rest of the over. Agarwal played his part, foiling Mumbai's other strategic move of bowling Harbhajan Singh to Gayle. Gayle faced only one delivery in Harbhajan's two overs at the start, with Agarwal dominating the strike and hitting big, down the ground and with the turn, taking 20 runs.
More friendliness followed from Mumbai as Malinga dropped Agarwal at square leg. At 57 for 0 after four, it became a Gayle show. Malinga bowled one good over full of slower ones for just one, but Gayle had his way with the rest of the bowlers. Only Rohit Sharma escaped his wrath, but Agarwal tucked into him with a four and a six. The beauty of the partnership was obvious: the right-hand batsman took care of the offspinners, Gayle everything else. The best of Gayle revealed itself in the 10th over, when Nechim was almost through a decent comeback over for four runs. The last ball, though, hardly left the ground, and yet crashed into the sight screen. Gayle was on 61 off 32 then, Bangalore 111.
Rohit dropped Agarwal in the next over, but made amends two balls later. Gayle, however, was not through, and went on to suggest that maybe he didn't need any shielding from Harbhajan, smacking him for back-to-back sixes over midwicket. Munaf, who held his own along with Malinga, eventually got rid of Gayle with a slightly slower one, and patted Gayle's back as he walked back. All of a sudden, slower balls started working, the ball started gripping the surface, inside edges appeared, and the batting seemed like hard work. Just how well Gayle batted was further driven home.
Despite the early wickets, Tendulkar, through cricketing shots and some improvisation, kept Mumbai's fans interested with 40 off 24, but ICL returnee J Syed Mohammad produced one sharp offbreak across Tendulkar to get him stumped. Kieron Pollard, who often teases the fans in such chases with late but insufficient hitting, was spectacularly and coolly caught by Abhimanyu Mithun on the edge of the long-on boundary. With the Mumbai dugout right behind him, Mithun stood with his feet six inches inside as the Mumbai extras made way for him, stretched over the boundary and completed the catch one-handed to shut the door on Mumbai. The filmstar Mithun, known for his outlandish stunts, would have been proud.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo