Bangalore: Chris Gayle smashed an unbeaten 92 before R. Vinay Kumars three-wicket burst helped Royal Challengers Bangalore begin their IPL-VI campaign a nail-biting two-run win over Mumbai Indians, at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, on Thursday.
Put in to bat, Gayle first single-handedly powered the Royal Challengers to a fighting 156 for five before Vinay Kumar (three for 27) picked up two crucial wickets in a tense final over to restrict Mumbai to 154 for five.
Kieron Pollard gave a scare to the hosts when he hit Vinay Kumar straight for a boundary to bring the equation down to four off the last ball. However, the Bangalore pacer kept his cool and bowled a yorker, which yielded Pollard just a single much to the joy of RCB and their supporters.
Chasing the challenging total, Mumbai Indians got off to a steady start with skipper Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar putting on 52 runs for the first wicket before both departed in quick succession.
While Ponting scored 28 off 33 balls, a rather quiet knock given the slam-bang format, Tendulkar was the aggressor scoring his 23 runs off just 19 balls, with the help of four boundaries, two of which came off successive Mutttiah Muralitharan deliveries in the off-spinner's very first over.
Tendulkar did not take any undue risk during the course of his knock and seemed eager to stay at the crease till the end. But his innings was cut short when he fell prey to a run out.
Soon after, Mumbai slumped to 62 for two when left-arm spinner Murali Kartik had Ponting stumped in the 10 th over. Rohit Sharma (11) then wasted yet another opportunity. Trying to go for a heave over mid-wicket, Rohit missed a straight ball from Vinay Kumar, which crashed on to his off-stump.
After a few hits and misses, Karthik finally broke his shackles and clobbered Christian for three consecutive sixes and a boundary to pick up 24 runs off the 17th over en route to bringing up his 50, off just 31 balls.
But once Karthik and Rayudu's 60-run stand was broken in the final over, the task became further difficult for Mumbai, with Vinay Kumar being spot-on with his line and length.
Earlier, after a relatively slow start, Gayle upped the tempo and scored 92 off just 58 balls with the help of 11 fours and five towering sixes to take his team past the 150-mark.
Even though wickets kept tumbling at the other end, the big-hitting Jamaican was hardly concerned as he went about his business in style, notching up his 13th IPL fifty and first of the season.
The start, however, was far from rosy for the hosts as they lost Tillekaratne Dilshan early, who was knocked over by Mitchell Johnson, with the scoreboard reading just three.
Newly-appointed RCB captain Virat Kohli played a short 24-run cameo before he was trapped leg before by debutant Jasprit Bumrah, who returned with the best figures for the Mumbai outfit, picking three wickets for 32 runs.
Bumrah, with a unique action, then accounted for Mayank Agarwal in his next over caught by Sachin Tendulkar.
With wickets falling at the other end, it took Gayle eight overs to break his shackles when he cracked a boundary and a six off Bumrah off consecutive balls. After the first 10 overs that produced just 59 runs, RCB rode Gayle's pyrotechnics to score 97 runs in the next 60 deliveries.
After opening up, Gayle then targeted his West Indian team-mate Kieron Pollard, picking up 15 runs with two boundaries and a six in the 11th over.