4:12 PM ET

  • Shashank Kishore

  • Srinath Sripath

Bumrah’s last three overs: eight runs, three wickets

Seventy-five needed off 42 balls. Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers at the crease. Kohli has just got to 5000 IPL runs and looks set to take RCB home. Despite their two most proven match-winners at the crease, ESPNcricinfo’s Forecaster is refusing to favour the home side. Jasprit Bumrah and Lasith Malinga, between them, will bowl five of the seven remaining overs, that’s why.

Bumrah comes in for the 14th over and keeps them to three off the first three balls. And then, against someone of Kohli’s class, he delivers a bouncer that pings off the splice of his bat. Boom. The world’s best batsman has been done for pace, and Forecaster has duly brought down RCB’s chances by about ten percentage points. Mumbai are firm favourites again.

Strike one delivered, Rohit Sharma brings on Malinga for the 16th over to prize out de Villiers. Except, Malinga versus de Villiers in the IPL is a no-contest: 99 runs off 51 balls, not a single dismissal for the tournament’s most successful bowler. His slower balls have by now become too predictable, and de Villiers duly takes him for 20 runs.

22 off 12. It’s all on Bumrah now. The protege has to deliver once again so the master can squeeze it out in the 20th over. An off-colour Colin de Grandhomme lets de Villiers do the hitting, except Bumrah’s radar is inch-perfect: yorker, bouncer, yorker. De Villiers can only manage 2 off 3.

In a game where the run-rate has hovered around nine, Bumrah’s last three overs have gone for eight runs. Eight

Chahal reaps the rewards for no-fear attitude

There’s no fear. Not even after Yuvraj Singh has walloped him for three sixes. For those two minutes, even the DJ at the Chinnaswamy Stadium seems lost. He urges the crowd to go “Aree-Ceee-Beee”, but they alternate between “Yuvi-Yuvi-Yuvi” and “we want six”. Now, the pressure is squarely on the bowler. Yuzvendra Chahal knows what’s coming, but is unfazed and goes wide of the crease to land a googly on a length outside off. It stops on him a touch but Yuvraj is through the shot and slices it off the outer part of the bat to long-off. Just when Mumbai seemed to have offset a slow middle period that had them score just 41 in the six overs after being 52 for none in the Powerplay, Chahal strikes.

This modus operandi becomes a template for the rest of Chahal’s spell: the decision to not deliver anything in the batsman’s hitting arc. Off his next over, his fourth and final one of the night, he goes wide outside off again to Suryakumar Yadav. The first attempt results in a mistimed sweep. But off the next, he reaches out to go big, but it keeps drifting away and he skies a catch to the cover fielder. Three balls later, Kieron Pollard attempts to do what his colleagues have failed at. He looks to smack a sixth-stump length ball over long-off, and spoons a catch to sweeper cover. It’s worth mentioning that the might not have been had the umpire not wrongly called wide off the previous delivery, that deflected off Pollard’s pads. Even so, shouldn’t he have then seen off Chahal? The wicket made Chahal the first bowler to a four-for this season, three of which were to deliveries bowled outside off.

Who’s going to bowl at the death for RCB?

Did Chahal’s burst in the 16th mask RCB’s death-overs struggle? They finished with the poorest returns in this period last season, and two games in – never mind the result – RCB still don’t look like they have a convincing combination to negotiate this period. You might look at the numbers and wonder what we are talking about: the last five on Thursday went for just 48, 15 off which came off the final over when Mohammad Siraj kept missing yorker-length deliveries to be clobbered by Hardik Pandya.

But let’s look at the options: Colin de Grandhomme doesn’t have the pace, and on a re-laid Bengaluru track that doesn’t quite have the same bite or grip from the last two seasons, he’s at best a containing option in the middle overs. Navdeep Saini is just two IPL games old and Siraj’s death-overs economy over 11 games last season was 10.31. These two accounted for three of the last five.

What of Umesh Yadav? His economy of 6.40 in the Powerplay was the best for any bowler in IPL 2018, and he’s brought Kohli wickets upfront. On fresh surfaces with some zip, he’s largely seen as a new-ball option. Will Nathan Coulter-Nile, set to join the squad on April 1, or Tim Southee – both of whom can also be new-ball options – add better balance? This could mean they leave out de Grandhomme, whom they could replace with Washington Sundar, an offspinner with a flat trajectory. This could give them an extra spin option on surfaces that could become slower as the season progresses.

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