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Gayle guides RCB to 9-wkt win over MI

Mumbai: Chris Gayle smashed his way to an unbeaten 82 as Royal Challengers Bangalore crushed Mumbai Indians by nine wickets in their Indian Premier League match here on Wednesday.

Gayle remained quite in the early part of RCB run chase of 142 but exploded later on, hitting five fours and six sixes as the visitors romped home with two overs to spare after the visiting bowlers produced a disciplined show by restricting the home side to 141 for six at the Wankhede Stadium. Gayle`s 59-ball blitz was his fourth 80-plus knock this IPL season.

The West Indian reached his fifty with a huge six of Pragyan Ojha in the 11th over. He struck Ojha for three successive sixes in that over which saw the bowler conceding 22 runs. That over virtually changed the complexion of the game after Mumbai kept it tight, not allowing the match run away quickly to RCB`s favour.

Gayle was though lucky early in his innings as he was dropped by Dwayne Smith off the bowling of R P Singh when he was on 21 in the sixth over and Mumbai paid a heavy price for that costly mistake.

Captain Virat Kohli, who struck a six to end the successful run chase, remained not out on 36 from just 25 balls while Tillakaratne Dilshan, with whom Gayle shared 48 runs for the first wicket, contributed 19 on a pitch which offered bounce and lateral movement.

Gayle and Kohli ensured the visitors` victory with an unfinished second wicket partnership of 94 runs in 58 balls. With the win, RCB jumped to fourth in the league table with 13 points from 12 matches, a rung behind MI and a point adrift.

Earlier, wicket keeper Dinesh Karthik top-scored with a breezy 44 as Mumbai Indians struggled against a disciplined RCB bowling attack to post 141 for six.

Karthik`s 39-ball knock that included three fours and a six and his two significant partnerships with Sachin Tendulkar (24 in 27 balls) and Ambati Rayydu (22 in 39 balls) propped up the MI innings after they made a shocking start after being put to bat on a seam-friendly track.

MI lost two wickets in the second over, R Vinay Kumar accounting for both in a superb first spell with Zaheer Khan at the other end, before Tendulkar, who hit four fours, and Karthik stabilised the innings a bit with a stand of 39.

Tendulkar`s dismissal at 41 in the ninth over saw Karthik and Ambati Rayudu joining hands to resurrect the stuttering innings with a stand of 44 in 33 balls. But the dismissal of both these batsmen as well as Dwayne Smith in the space of 11 balls jolted the innings and left MI struggling at 100 for six.

Finally it was left to Harbhajan Singh (20 not out off 12 balls with two sixes) and the fit-again Kieron Pollard (21 not out off 13 balls with three fours) to hit some lusty blows to boost the score with an unbroken stand of 41 in 25 balls.

Pollard carted Vinay Kumar for successive sixes in the last over in which the medium pacer gave away 18 runs. Vinay Kumar ended up with two for 34 while Harshal Patel and Muttiah Muralitharan secured identical two for 24.

Mumbai Indians struggled to score runs on a wicket affording bounce and seam movement in plenty. Both Zaheer and Vinay Kumar were impressive and the latter struck two big blows to send back left-handed opener James Franklin (1) and in-form number three Rohit Sharma (0) off the second and fifth balls of his first over, and the innings` second.

Both the batsmen played rash shots. Franklin was lured by a short-pitched ball to play a slash and was caught by Zaheer at third man. Rohit played across and was beaten by the inward tilt to be trapped LBW, leaving MI at a sorry two for two.

Vinay troubled even Tendulkar with his movement and struck the master batsman on the pads once but the ball was missing the leg by a small margin and the batsman escaped. Tendulkar, on 1, also could have been dismissed run out had a throw from rival skipper Virat Kohli had struck the striker`s end stumps when he set off for a non-existent run with non-striker Dinesh Karthik rooted to his crease. At the end of the fifth they were 12 for two.

The sixth over, the last one in the power play period, was made highly productive by Tendulkar who struck Vinay Kumar for three glorious fours offs successive balls. The 13 runs taken in the over boosted MI`s total to 25 at the end of the power play stage of the innings.

The third wicket stand was slowly steadying the rocked boat and was worth 39 when Tendulkar mistimed a pull off Patel, who had replaced Zaheer after the latter`s economical two-over spell, and skied a return catch in the ninth over. At the end of the halfway stage, MI were 48 for three.

The fourth wicket pair of Karthik and Ambati Rayudu gathered runs mostly in singles and twos and were pegged back by Muttiah Muralitharan`s bag of tricks. The duo added 44 runs in 33 balls to give a boost to the scoring rate.

Harshal Patel came back for his second spell to break the stand by dismissing Rayudu. Karthik struck Mohammed for two successive fours before trying to swing Muralitharan for a boundary only to be caught at long on.

Dwayne Smith, the hero of the last ball win over the Chennai Super Kings, fell off the next ball having crossed over to leave Murali on a hat-trick that was denied to the bowler by Kieron Pollard.

Harbhajan then hit two fours off Zaheer`s last over, before Pollard, back in action after missing a few games due to a shoulder injury, hoisted Vinay for two huge sixes over the mid-wicket region.

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