Tilak Varma batted with aplomb, smashing a scintillating fifty to single-handedly power Mumbai Indians to a competitive 171 for seven against Royal Challengers Bangalore in their opening IPL match in Bengaluru on Sunday.
Sent in to bat, five-time champions MI had a poor start, but Varma, coming off a successful last season, delivered the goods as he held the innings together with an unbeaten 46-ball 84-run knock.
RCB bowlers had reduced MI to 20 for three in 5.2 overs after skipper Faf du Plessis opted to bowl, but Varma played a lone hand, adding 50 and 48 with Nehal Wadhera (21) and Arshad Khan (15 not out) for the fifth and eighth wickets respectively.
The 20-year-old decorated his knock with nine boundaries and four sixes.
Earlier, Ishan Kishan smashed two fours before being removed by Mohammed Siraj with an outswinger, while Cameron Green was dismissed by Reece Topley, who took his first IPL wicket.
Rohit got a life when RCB dropped a simple chance with Siraj and Dinesh Kartik colliding while going for the catch in the fifth over.
However, the India skipper couldn’t capitalise, paying the price for his lack of footwork as Akash Deep induced an edge of his blade and Kartik did the rest as MI were reduced to 20 for three in 5.2 overs.
A big hit over long-on from new man Varma took MI to 29 for three in the powerplay.
In the eighth over, Topley was assisted out of the field after he landed awkwardly on his right shoulder while diving to stop a boundary off Varma’s bat.
Suryakumar Yadav, who has been in poor form, too, couldn’t capitalise on a good start, hitting straight to Shahbaz Ahmed as Michael Bracewell claimed a wicket.
Varma continued to bat with confidence, reverse-sweeping Bracewell over backward point for a four before hitting a six and four off Maxwell as 16 runs came off the 12th over.
Wadhera showed his big-hitting skills with back-to-back maximums off Karn Sharma but the bowler had the last laugh as the batter was caught by Virat Kohli as MI reached 99 for five in 14 overs.
There was lot of expectations from Tim David but Karn Sharma cleaned him up when he tried to go for a big hit.
Varma seemed to be batting on a different pitch as he slammed Akash Deep over deep square leg for another maximum to reach his half century.
Du Plessis then got into the act, producing a superb catch at mid-off to get rid off Hrithik Shokeen as Harshal Patel got his first wicket of the season.
Siraj, who had figures of 3-0-5-1 after three overs, bowled the 19th over, sending down five wides and conceding two fours as MI reached 149 for seven following the 16-run over.
Two sixes and a four flew from Varma’s bat off Harshal as MI reached 171 for seven.