Chasing 172, it was Code Red for Mumbai as they slumped to 51 for five in the ninth over. But Rayudu stroked a wonderful 81 not out off 54 balls and, with strong support from Kieron Pollard, who bashed 52 not out off 31 deliveries, Mumbai snuck home with two balls to spare.
Pollard issued a strong warning that Mumbai weren’t giving up the chase as he hammered left-arm spinner KP Appanna for two sixes to end the 11th over. But the momentum was broken by a 12-minute delay after one of the four banks of floodlights failed – with the visitors facing defeat on the Duckworth/Lewis method if they couldn’t be restarted timeously.
Once play resumed, Rayudu and Pollard ensured that the result was in their hands and not left to any calculations as they extended their marvellous unbeaten partnership to 122 off 65 balls.
Their fiery approach saw off-spinner Chris Gayle’s darts being belted for 25 runs in two overs, while 16 runs came off Zaheer Khan’s 17th over that was really disappointing given the left-arm paceman’s wealth of experience.
But the 18th over was where Bangalore really lost the match. With Mumbai still needing 41 runs off 18 balls, Vinay Kumar bowled just where Rayudu likes it – outside off stump – and the 26-year-old blasted two sixes and a four.
That left 23 runs needed off the last two overs and Zaheer conceded nine off the penultimate over. Gayle then returned to defend 14 runs off the final over and could only cuss as Pollard smashed two fours and a six as Mumbai gatecrashed the party and stole an amazing victory.
Mumbai were in disarray at the start as the “infallible” Sachin Tendulkar was out first ball, dismissed by Zaheer thanks to captain Virat Kohli’s systematic field placing and his own sharp catch above his head at a short cover-point.
Three balls later, Herschelle Gibbs (2) was run out as he failed to focus on his running and was caught unawares by KP Appanna’s strong arm from the boundary.
Bangalore were especially pleased to remove Rohit Sharma, the scorer of a brilliant century in his last match, for just five in the fourth over as the batsman presented Vinay with an easy return catch.
Rayudu then joined Dinesh Karthik and the pair added 25 for the fourth wicket off 4.1 overs before Karthik (16) failed to make full contact on a sweep off Muttiah Muralitharan, Harshal Patel running around the backward square-leg boundary to take the catch.
The Royal Challengers were firmly in control when the impressive Harshal had Dwayne Smith caught at backward point for six, but the other West Indian in the Mumbai Indians team, big bad Pollard, then stepped up to the plate.
The skill of Rayudu and the power of Pollard combined perfectly as Mumbai snatched victory in the death overs.
The best bowlers for the Royal Challengers were the ones who bowled in the middle overs – Harshal (4-0-25-1) and Muralitharan (4-0-16-1).
Agarwal had earlier lifted the Bangalore Royal Challengers to 171 for six after they had been sent in to bat.
Overcast weather, a tinge of green on the pitch and plenty of moisture about after a 50-minute rain delay were the causes of Mumbai captain Harbhajan Singh’s decision, which paid off as the home side crashed to 47 for three.
The king of T20 batsmen, Gayle, was out of character and feeling for the ball, eventually dragging a Munaf Patel delivery back into his stumps to be bowled for six.
Kohli (3) will feel let down by opener Tillakaratne Dilshan after a mix-up saw the captain run out, but it was mostly thanks to a brilliant piece of fielding by South African Gibbs, who recalled his heyday by diving full-length at backward point to intercept a Dilshan cut and then showed great awareness to throw to bowler Munaf to complete the dismissal.
A rash of extras from Munaf – he bowled three no-balls and a wide in his third over- helped a little partnership develop between Dilshan and Saurabh Tiwary (21), the pair adding 36 before being separated by a dismissal you don’t see very often.
Tiwary went back to off-spinner Harbhajan, playing the ball into the leg side, but he then took another step backwards and trod on his middle stump, being dismissed hit wicket.
AB de Villiers for once didn’t come off, but his innings of 14 was important in stabilising the innings as he and Dilshan added 40 off 30 balls for the fourth wicket before Lasith Malinga took a sharp catch at deep extra cover after the South African had been duped by a Pollard slower ball.
Dilshan was not entirely convincing as he scored 47 off 50 balls before the innings came alive at the death thanks to Agarwal’s brisk intervention.
Dilshan’s dismissal, bowled by a Rudra Pratap Singh full toss, left the Challengers on a mediocre 133 for five in the 18th over, but Agarwal then took over.
The exciting 21-year-old prospect was up to the challenge posed by the great Malinga, hitting him for a four and a six as 13 runs came off the 19th over.
Agarwal then upped the ante in the final over as he rocketed Bangalore to a challenging total.
The dismal Munaf’s first ball was a full toss which was dispatched over long-off for six; a superb square-drive for four off the second delivery brought up Agarwal’s maiden IPL half-century off just 26 balls. The third ball was another full toss which was hit to long-off for four, before Agarwal hit another six over midwicket to finish with a haul of 24 runs off the final over.
Agarwal hit six fours and four sixes in all to mark himself as one of India’s brightest batting talents, taking Bangalore to a competitive total.
The hapless Munaf, whose third over was the longest in IPL history, was plundered for 44 runs in his last two overs and was also poor in the field.
The left-armer, Rudra, was the best of the Mumbai bowlers with one for 23 in his four overs, while the seam of Malinga (4-0-29-0), Pollard (3-0-20-1) and Smith (2-0-10-0) was also effective in keeping the run-rate down.