Bengaluru: Packed stands with about 30,000 fans were stunned into eerie silence on Wednesday when Royal Challengers Bangalore’s (RCB) top order let them down badly again by succumbing tamely to smart bowling of tile-holders Mumbai Indians (MI) at the Chinnaswamy stadium in the IPL-9 season here.
With many of the fans sporting RCB’s band on forehead, its red logo on cheeks, wearing its jerseys and waving its red flags, the die-hard fans swarmed into the stands hour before the league tie for an exciting contest of bat and ball.
When Mumbai captain Rohit Sharma opted to bowl despite winning the toss and Chris Gayle name flashed on the giant screen, signalling his return into the playing 11, the fans were hoping the 36-year-old Jamican southpaw would explode at least in this match and treat them with mighty sixes and glorious shots to the fence as in the past.
Alas! To the bitter disappoint of his ardent fans, an out-of-form Gayle was sent back in fourth over with 5 in six balls after he hit a skier of New Zealand pacer Tim Southee.
Prior to Gayle’s exit, the sudden loss of RCB’s in-form skipper Viran Kohli in second over for 7 in 7 balls, including a six left the fans gasping. Even before crowds could settle down in the stands, the quick departure of both openers, followed by AB de Villiers in 10th over with just 60 on board, dejected the fans, as prospects of a place in play-offs appeared bleak.
“It is shocking to see the top order of RCB falling apart and struggling to score on its own home turf, which has a good batting wicket. I don’t understand what happened to them tonight. Short selection was bad. Shane Watson’s unfortunate run out put paid to their efforts for accelerating the score,” lamented Carl Ebenezer, a college student.
Local lad and RCB keeper K.L. Rahul and middle order batter Sachin Baby were the face-saving for the team by remaining not out and taking the score past 150, with the former hitting 68 in 53 balls and the latter 25 in 13 balls.