AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli showcased Royal Challengers Bangalore’s batting might on Tuesday, but 18-year-old Sarfaraz Khan stole the show in the crushing win over Sunrisers Hyderabad.
De Villiers and Kohli hit brilliant half-centuries without playing unconventional shots, but Sarfaraz 10-ball 35 not out in the end showed he belongs every bit to the T20 generation.
The batsman from Mumbai made a mark last year for RCB. He played 13 matches, and out of eight innings he was not out in four. He aggregated 111 runs, but his strike rate of 156.33 was third best in a line-up of batting heavyweights.
A big hit
Only de Villiers (175.08) and Mandeep Singh (157) had a better strike rate among RCB batsmen who aggregated 100 plus. It showed how he had embraced the role of finisher.
Against Sunrisers, de Villiers and Kohli had raised 157 runs together. Still, when de Villiers was out, RCB were 183 in 17.2 overs.
A big push was needed with 16 deliveries left. Shane Watson’s eight-ball 19 included three sixes in a row off leg-spinner Karn Sharma, but that was overshadowed by Sarfaraz.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, having struggled with injury and form earlier in the season, had bowled well. He had excellent figures of 3-0-27-2 after removing Kohli for a 51-ball 75.
Watson attacked Karn Sharma, but Mustafiqur Rahman was brilliant in his IPL debut, and gave away just three runs in the 18th over. At 186/4, the target didn’t look daunting.
But Bhuvneshwar’s seven-ball 19th over went for 28 runs. Kedar Jadhav hit a four and single and Sarfaraz struck 4, 4, 6, 4 and 4 off the next five.
Bhuvi bowled too full and Sarfaraz played stunning scoops. The contest ended in that over.
Junior World Cup run
Sarfaraz was in great form in the under-19 World Cup in February. His scores there were 74, 74, 21no, 76, 59 and 51.
“It’s incredible what a young guy can do, and that’s just the beginning of what he can do,” Watson said. “He is an incredibly talented young man. To have control over those shots, where it goes, to do that for someone so young, it is difficult even for experienced guys.”
Sunrisers skipper David Warner praised Sarfaraz but felt his side were handicapped after Ashish Nehra left the field due to injury and Bhuvneshwar should have mixed up his deliveries.
“We know how he plays. Bhuvi came and five of the six balls he bowled were full tosses. He (Sarfaraz) played lap sweeps. That’s his game, and he did very well.
“But we didn’t have any answer. I’m not being critical, but Bhuvi should have changed the pace a little bit. It’s my fault too. As captain, I should have gone and spoken to him, so that he thinks about it.”
For RCB though, it was a perfect start to IPL 9.