Mumbai spinners outshine fancied Royal Challengers duo

The key factor in Mumbai Indians’ 46-run victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore was the contrast in performances of the teams’ respective spinners.

Krunal Pandya (centre) took three wickets and gave away 28 runs in his four overs.   -  Sportzpics/IPL

High-scoring white-ball games, especially in the shortest format, often tend to disregard the valuable role of bowlers.

Tuesday night’s Indian Premier League game between defending champion Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore provided an example. While India captain Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharm stole headlines for their individual batting cameos, the key difference between the sides was the performance of their respective spin bowlers.

Level-playing field

For a change, with dew not making a major impact right through the match due to overcast conditions, it was a level-playing field for the spinners from both the sides. The lesser-fancied Mumbai Indians spin duo of Krunal Pandya and Mayank Markande outshone their counterparts Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal to ensure Royal Challengers Bangalore was never really in the chase.

The combined figures of Sundar and Chahal read 64 for no loss in five overs; in contrast, left-arm spinner Pandya and leg-spinner Mayank Markande, the find of the tournament so far, snared four Royal Challengers batsmen for just 53 runs off their eight overs. The fact that Virat Kohli, who not only became the Orange Cap holder but also surpassed Suresh Raina's tally of 4558 to top the list of highest run-getters in IPL history, failed to score a boundary for more than seven overs in the middle overs spoke a great deal about the difference between the two sides.

Defensive spinners

Daniel Vettori, the RCB head coach, did his best to shield his spinners. “I think with Washington and Yuzi, they were probably in defensive position with Rohit [Sharma] and [Ewin] Lewis being very aggressive, so we bowled defensively,” Vettori said.

He added, “When Mumbai spinners came on, their team was in a good position and that allowed them to actually bowl and be little more attacking. We saw the rewards what they got. So it’s different styles of bowling. Mumbai were on top when they came into bowl but we weren’t able to do a similar thing.”

‘Credit’ to Krunal and Mayank

At the half-way stage, both teams had lost just two wickets each. While the fancied Royal Challengers duo were ineffective, the Mumbai Indians spinners strangulated the opposition batsmen, including Kohli, for a better part of the innings.

Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma acknowledged the spinners’ contribution. He said, “Krunal came in and used his variation to his advantage. He is a very clever, thinking bowler. He knows exactly where the batsman is going to target him and what he has to bowl to that kind of players. He reads the batsmen really well and not to forget Mayank as well. He is just 20-year old playing his fourth game and to come out and bowl in such difficult conditions is not easy. I think these two guys [should be] given a lot of credit.”