Scintillating half-centuries from Faf du Plessis and Virat Kohli powered Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) to a thumping eight-wicket victory over Mumbai Indians in an IPL 2023 match, marking a happy homecoming at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, here on Sunday.
As RCB took the field in Chinnaswamy Stadium after 1247 days, chants of the franchise engulfed the whole arena. To their credit, RCB didn’t disappoint at all, as bowlers got wickets in power-play and middle overs to keep Mumbai to 171/7, though young Tilak Varma shined with an outstanding 84 not out off just 46 balls.
In reply, du Plessis and Kohli put out an exhibition of majestic strokeplay and rattled Mumbai’s bowling attack to enthrall home fans. While du Plessis made 73 off 43 balls, including five fours and six sixes, Kohli was in sublime touch to be 82 not out off 49 balls, laced with six fours and five sixes to chase 172 in 16.2 overs to get their IPL 2023 campaign off to a winning start.
In defence of 171, Mumbai brought in Jason Behrendorff as an impact player in place of Suryakumar Yadav to share the new-ball with Arshad Khan. After making a watchful start, du Plessis cut down on the swing by dancing down the pitch to hit a four and two sixes on both sides of the wicket off Behrendorff.
Jofra Archer put down Kohli on his first ball of the match. Kohli then followed it up by placing a steer between backward point and short third man for four, and smacked a six over long-off. Kohli and du Plessis took a boundary each off Piyush Chawla and Archer to bring the fifty of their opening partnership in the power-play.
Du Plessis continued to be unstoppable — timing his drives through the off-side against Cameron Green twice and ended the over with a scooped six to take 17 runs off the eighth over. He welcomed off-spinner Hrithik Shokeen with consecutive sixes over mid-wicket and long-on, first of which took him to his fifty in 29 balls.
Kohli then danced down the pitch to whack Chawla over long-on for six, and bring up the century of the opening partnership in the 11th over, before reaching his fifty in 38 balls. He then welcomed Behrendorff with a pull through cow corner for four, before du Plessis pulled and flicked for four and six respectively.
Kohli hammered sixes off Archer and Arshad through the leg-side to keep Mumbai under the pump. They had a breakthrough when du Plessis holed out to long-on, breaking the 148-run opening partnership. After Dinesh Karthik fell for a three-ball duck, Glenn Maxwell slapped sixes over extra cover and fine leg, with Kohli whipping and lofting for four and six respectively to complete Bangalore’s chase with 22 balls remaining.
Earlier, Mohammed Siraj, Reece Topley and Karn Sharma starred to reduce Mumbai to 123/7, after being 48/4 at one point. But Varma stood tall and impressed everyone with his skill and temperament in hitting nine boundaries and four sixes at a strike-rate of 182.6, as Mumbai got 69 runs from the last five overs.
Ishan Kishan’s attempt to flick off Siraj took a fat leading edge to short third man. Cameron Green was cleaned bowled by a Topley yorker. Siraj could have had Rohit Sharma caught with a sharp bouncer, but he collided with Dinesh Karthik as neither of the two could hold on to the catch.
But Rohit, who earlier survived a direct hit attempt, was unable to capitalise on the two breathers and nicked behind off Akash Deep. Suryakumar Yadav had a start but ended up cutting straight to backward point off Michael Bracewell.
Despite wickets falling around, Varma continued to match forward. He began with a six over long-on off Deep which came right off the middle of the bat. When Harshal Patel pitched down leg, he came on top of the bounce to pull past short fine leg.
Varma was impressive in facing off-spinners; reverse-sweeping off Bracewell for four. He welcomed Glenn Maxwell by dancing down the pitch to thump a six over long-on, followed by going on backfoot to pull through mid-wicket for four.
Varma was also talking and advising T20 debutant Nehal Wadhera after every ball. That effect rubbed on when Wadhera pulled and smacked Karn Sharma for consecutive sixes, including a 101-m hit over long-on.
But Karn had the last laugh as Wadhera holed out to long-on in the 14th over. Two overs later, Tim David tried to hoick off Karn, but lost his middle stump. With Hrithik Shokeen falling to an athletic catch by Faf du Plessis off Harshal, Varma continued to get runs, pulling off Karn through fine leg for four.
He reached his fifty in 32 balls with a terrific heave over deep square leg for six off Deep. When Harshal gave some width, Varma freed his arms to slash through point for four. He then lofted and pulled Siraj for a brace of boundaries in the 19th over where the fast bowler gave four wides.
Varma pulled Harshal in the gap through square leg for four in the final over, before ending the innings with a helicopter shot to send a fuller delivery over long-on for six, as 22 runs came off the final over.
Brief Scores: Mumbai Indians 171/7 in 20 overs (Tilak Varma 84 not out; Karn Sharma 2/32) lost to Royal Challengers Bangalore 172/2 in 16.2 overs (Virat Kohli 82 not out, Faf du Plessis 73; Arshad Khan 1/28, Cameron Green 1/30) by eight wickets.