AB de Villiers, slinking menacingly around a flat Wankhede pitch, set about the most vicious sustained attack of this IPL, reaping 133 runs at a strike rate of 225.42 to effectively bat Mumbai Indians out of the match
AB de Villiers, slinking menacingly around a flat Wankhede pitch, set about the most vicious sustained attack of this IPL, reaping 133 runs at a strike rate of 225.42 to effectively bat Mumbai Indians out of the match.
Virat Kohli was in sublime form himself, but his 82 from 50 balls from the other end was little more than a sidelight, as a rapturous Mumbai crowd suspended regional loyalty to chant de Villiers' name. The pair remained unbeaten at the close of the innings, having hit a T20-record 215 in each others' company. Royal Challengers' 235 for 1 was also the highest score of the season, beating their own previous record, while de Villiers' was the highest individual score of the season. The visitors' score would be 39 too many for Mumbai Indians.
De Villiers barely mishit a ball throughout his stay, but Mumbai will rue their own shambolic fielding in the third over of the innings, when a straightforward chance off Kohli was spilled off Mitchell McClenaghan at slip. Kohli would hit 76 more runs from his own blade, but it was the support he provided to de Villiers that made this spill truly costly.
Mumbai delivered too many knee-high full tosses and overpitched deliveries to such high-quality batsmen, but when de Villiers began to flit around the crease to launch the ball to almost any region of his choosing, the hosts were understandably battered to breaking point. Lasith Malinga, for example, had figures of 1 for 13 from his first three overs. He came back when de Villiers was in full flow and had a near-yorker scooped over fine leg for four, then was cracked almost casually over cover for four soon after. His final over cost 14.
De Villiers began with five dot balls to Malinga, to complete a wicket-maiden, before his expansive game clicked into place with successive square fours - one either side of the pitch - off J Suchith's left-arm spin in the sixth over. When Mumbai's spinners failed to generate significant turn from the surface, de Villiers began to hot out with more intent. In Harbhajan Singh's first over, de Villiers creamed him through the covers, then came down the pitch to clobber him over the long on fence. Suchith came in for more punishment, conceding three more fours - de Villiers once pretending to move toward the off side, only to return to his original position to sweep the confused to the square leg fence - but soon even the quicks were being mauled. De Villiers ran at McClenaghan to drill him to the straight fence, reaching 50 from 29 deliveries, then dropped deep into his crease to crack him past point next ball.
Kohli spent much of the early and mid-innings turning strike over to de Villiers, scoring smartly enough himself, but rarely hitting out against balls that did not deserve punishment. De Villiers, meanwhile, made very good deliveries seem woeful. He made room to drive Hardik Pandya for three consecutive fours in the 15th over, then when McClenaghan sent a ball at his chest, hit it behind square leg for four. It was only after Kohli reached his own fifty, off 39 balls, that he moved to match de Villiers' aggression. Royal Challengers were 160 for 1 after 15 overs. The pair plundered Jasprit Bumrah's 17th for 25. The second of de Villiers' sixes in that over took him into triple figures, off 47 balls, before Kohli sent the last ball of the over beyond long on to collect a six for himself.
That over was the most expensive in the innings, but there was plenty of mayhem to follow. Pandya's next two overs were carted for 19 and 17. That he was even given the final over of the innings reflects the chaos that the pair had unleashed on Mumbai's strategy. When the hosts' torment finally came to an end at the innings break, Kohli and de Villiers had hit 25 fours and eight sixes between them.
Kieron Pollard and Llendl Simmons clobbered 70 runs in 37 balls for the third wicket, to restore a little hope for Mumbai Indians, but even their most productive overs were barely staying in touch with the required run rate. When Pollard holed out on 49 to leave the hosts needing 103 from 40 balls, the match was effectively secure for Royal Challengers. Simmons remained unbeaten on 68 from 58 balls when the innings fizzled out at 196 for 7 from 20 overs.