x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Hearts beat for Tendulkar, bleed for RCB

Royal Challengers Bangalore may have lost the game to Mumbai Indians at home but their own fans were cheering the opposition captain, Sachin Tendulkar.

Sachin Tendulkar, right, and Ambati Rayudu put on a 110-run stand for Mumbai against Bangalore at Chinnaswamy Stadium last night.
Sachin Tendulkar, right, and Ambati Rayudu put on a 110-run stand for Mumbai against Bangalore at Chinnaswamy Stadium last night.

Home or away, the Mumbai Indians invariably enjoy greater support than their rivals.

And there is just reason for it: the phenomena known as Sachin Tendulkar.

Provincialism and petty parochialism take a backseat when the opposition walks out with India's favourite son in their ranks.

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The scenes are repeated at every ground.

How could it be any different in Bangalore then?

Daniel Vettori, the captain of the home-side Royal Challengers, must have felt like an alien when the former New Zealand captain stepped out for the toss at a packed Chinnaswamy Stadium.

The roar for Tendulkar was so deafening, even the loudest Mumbai Indian supporters would have been proud.

"My heart beats for Tendulkar and bleeds for RCB," read a placard, epitomising the mood in the stands.

The first ball of the game must have reinforced Vettori's belief. Even Lasith Malinga, who wrecked the Delhi Daredevils with five wickets in the first match, must have been wondering.

The Sri Lanka fast bowler scattered the stumps behind Mayank Agarwal and the fans were screaming with delight.

Now, Agarwal is Bangalore-born and brought up, but that is clearly not a consideration for Tendulkar's maniacal legion.

He got a brute for a first-ball, one that curved away late, but the send-off might have a bit more painful surely.

Losing a wicket off the first ball, the Royal Challengers suffered a second blow in the fifth over when Virat Kohli skied Kieron Pollard and Davy Jacobs, the wicketkeeper, accepted the catch gratefully.

Sensing their side was in trouble, the fans got behind the team and chants of "RCB, RCB" soon rose from the stands.

Encouraged by the support, Tillakaratane Dilshan and AB de Villiers (38) got busy with the repair-job. Cautious at the start, they took the score from 19 for two to 110 before the South African fell a victim to the need for quick runs.

The Royal Challengers eventually finished on 140 for four, with Dilshan returning unbeaten on a 52-ball 59.

"It is not an easy wicket to bat on, to play your strokes on," said Dilshan after his knock.

"The ball is coming slow off the wicket. So AB and myself thought 140 was a good score to defend."

The target, however, did not prove such a stiff one for the Mumbai Indians. Jacobs (22) got the proceedings off to a frantic start with two sixes in the first two overs of former Mumbai Indian Zaheer Khan.

The South African did not last beyond the fifth over, a maiden from Dirk Nannes; that was the only over he bowled, spending the rest of the night on the treatment table with an injury.

With their best bowler gone, Bangalore were struggling to stop the flow of runs as Tendulkar kept the scoreboard ticking with his silky, precision drives and the odd improvisations.

He made batting look easy, as did Ambati Rayudu (63 not out) at the other end with some delightfully elegant hits, particularly through the off-side.

Together, they kept the fans entertained in a 110-run partnership that took Mumbai across the line in 18.3 overs, with nine wickets to spare.

With Tendulkar (55 not out) at the crease, the crowds had expectedly switched allegiance.

They celebrated every run and gave him a standing ovation at the end.

It was a comprehensive win, but Pollard, the giant West Indian all-rounder, believes that his team should have had a smaller target to chase.

"It was a good job keeping Bangalore down to 140," said Pollard. "I believe it was 20 runs too much, but having said that we knew we have the batsmen to go out and get those runs."