sport

Sharma stars for Mumbai

Skipper Rohit Sharma starred with a half century as Mumbai ran out 19-run winners over Royal Challengers Bangalore.

After a dismal start to this year's campaign, the champions have now won their last two and even if they don't go on to successfully defend their title, they may still have a major say in its destination in 2014.

Sharma's unbeaten 59 included four sixes and three other boundaries in 35 balls full of exhilarating strokes, as he shared in a wonderful 97-run partnership with Keiron Pollard. The latter made 43 in an innings that included an unsavoury exchange with Bangalore bowler Mitchell Starc.

In the 17th over, the Aussie banged the ball in short and Pollard tried, though failed, to swat it over his head. Starc openly verballed his opponent and when he was a stride from bowling his next delivery, Pollard pulled out towards square leg. Starc continued and bowled the delivery in the batsman's direction, much to the disgust of the latter, who threw down his bat.

Words were exchanged between Pollard, the umpires and Bangalore skipper Kohli in the middle, before play resumed, but it served only to spur both batsmen on to hit the ball further.

Pollard did have to suffer the ignominy of a subsequent run out by Starc, but took his chance to respond later, when catching his opponent as his team closed in on victory.

Set the platform

Earlier, after Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli had won the toss and asked the home side to bat, CM Gautam set the platform for the heroics of Sharma with a brisk 30 before nicking Aaron's angled delivery to Parthiv.

Harshal Patel's medium pace was as good as anything on offer from the Royal Challengers' attack, which was never really able to exercise any consistent control on the opposing batsmen.

Having appeared to hit form in the win over the Kings XI on Saturday, Corey Anderson reminded us of previous disappointments with just a three-ball stay. It included a six off leg-spinner Chahal, who then got the Kiwi to loft one into the deep where he was caught by Kohli.

Much of the home fans' hopes now rested on the shoulders of captain Sharma and Saturday's hero Pollard. With both Aaron and Patel bowling well, they had to exercise a degree of patience, but when they got the chance to open up they did so.

Pollard was brutal when hammering a short ball from Patel through the covers, off the back foot, for four. His skipper was more conventional but no less pleasing on the eye when driving the same bowler in textbook fashion through the off side for another boundary later in the over.

Aaron had good figures of 1-17 off three overs, but by the end of his fourth that had become 1-41, Sharma smashing him for 24 from the penultimate over, including three sixes.

The Bangalore reply began well, with the left-handed duo Chris Gayle and Harshal Patel playing some destructive shots as they hit 43 off the first three overs of the innings. The introduction of the off-spin of Harbhajan Singh changed all that, however, as he picked up the wickets of both openers.

Patel (26) was first to go, bowled off stump when sweeping, while Gayle (38) went in similar fashion. Kohli (35) took things a stage further until he lobbed a catch to Anderson in the deep and the rot set in.

Apparently cruising at 94-1 at one stage, the visitors were reduced to 139-6 by the time Pollard had caught Starc, with only Rilee Roussouw's ebullient 24 off 14 deliveries late on countering the slide. Lasith Malinga (2-29) and another excellent spell from Jasprit Bumrah (2-22) were other significant contributors with the ball for Mumbai, who move off the foot of the table as a result.