After Mumbai had put Bangalore in, the question was how Chris Gayle would fare against Lasith Malinga and Harbhajan Singh upfront. Anti-climax - Abu Nechim opened the bowling. Initially, Gayle was beaten by one that seamed away. Nechim even got the outside edge next up, but Gayle collected a four wide of slip. That was as good as the night got for Nechim. The rest was a flurry of boundaries as Gayle looted 20 off the over. Nechim contributed with seven wides, and Mumbai went downhill after the most expensive opening over in the IPL.
After the torrent of runs at the start, Gayle dug in, determined to hang around for as long as possible. Normally, he does not play out many dot balls. Today, he did; three in a row off Malinga in the sixth over. Just as one felt that the fourth would either get Gayle or disappear out of sight, he showed remarkable control to calmly nudge to square leg for a single. Gayle said later that it was his plan to be cautious against Malinga. Gayle plans, Gayle executes. And collects Man-of-the-Match awards by the half dozen.
AB de Villiers has superb reflexes, and displays them regularly in the covers and as a wicketkeeper. He showed them off as a batsman today. In the 19th over, the ball slipped out of Nechim's hands, and came screaming at de Villiers' rib cage as a high full toss. The normal reaction of any batsman would be to fend it away, or duck out of danger. de Villiers' was to go for the hook instinctively. It came on to him so fast though that even as he got bat on it, his eyes closed and he fell on the ground with the impact. What happened to the ball? He had maneuvered it so well that it sailed into the crowd beyond deep square leg.
There have been few fireworks from Kieron Pollard's bat this IPL, and he has mostly been turning it on in the field with acrobatic saves and stunning catches. He was, however, at the receiving end today. When he lofted Daniel Vettori down the ground, the Mumbai players prepared to scatter as the ball came hurtling down towards their dugout. But Abhimanyu Mithun was prowling at long-off and had kept his eye on the ball all along. Just as it crossed the rope, Mithun stretched out his right hand to grab it. He also took care that his back leg remained grounded an inch inside the boundary, and Pollard's IPL was over.
Syed Mohammad's first delivery was lofted to the straight boundary by Sachin Tendulkar. Off the fifth, Tendulkar walked casually down the track, took the ball on the full and twirled the bat to pick up a couple through midwicket. Tendulkar tried to repeat the walk-and-twirl approach off the last delivery, but Syed was wiser this time. He dropped it shorter, so Tendulkar stopped walking and waited. But he was in no position to deal with what happened next. The ball turned a mile after angling inwards, and ended up outside off. Tendulkar was so surprised that he ended up hopping and poking in the air, completely squared up. de Villiers was left with a simple stumping.
Rohit Sharma is a capable player of spin, as he shows whenever he dances out to loft inside-out over extra cover. Daniel Vettori enticed him to attempt exactly that with a generously flighted delivery. Rohit went for the lofted drive, but to his horror, the ball dipped on him like a stone drops from a considerable height. It was too late to pull out the shot, and Rohit tried to reach out to the dipping ball. More trouble. It turned sharply and took the outer half of the bat to loop to sweeper cover.
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo