Paul Collingwood's sixes don't generally outnumber his fours by more than double. He doesn't usually try and reverse sweep an in-form paceman like Vinay Kumar while the team is on shaky ground. But on Sunday, he did both.
In the face of a tight line from the RCB spinners, he sorted out the balls and the bowlers that deserved to be hit, pasting them far and beyond anyone's reach. As a result, sixes rained down on a very happy Delhi crowd at the Kotla and demoralised the Royal Challengers Bangalore — no mean feat.
That the English T20 skipper is a calm customer was never in doubt, but like against the Knight Riders in the last game, he has shown an amazing ability to improvise. Two overs fetched him princely sums, 19 both times, one off Cameron White midway through and the other off Abhimanyu Mithun towards the end. Midwicket and long on were his target areas and he was bang on.
Collingwood's judiciousness was preceded by the Kumble-Sehwag combat — a perfect appetizer for the unfolding banquet. Kumble mixed it up and for the first one-and-half overs, made Sehwag grope. Then, the devil in Sehwag cut loose, a through the line, an inside out and a straight down fetching him 14. But Kumble, coming back later was miserly as was left-armer KP Appanna.
It is a pity that two of the IPL's best bowlers, Kumble and Murali Kartik, one voluntarily out of action and the other having no choice in the matter, won't be in India colours at the World T20. Neither will be the current Purple Cap holder, the Daredevils' Amit Mishra, after Piyush Chawla was inexplicably picked up ahead of him.
Of the game itself, 185 is usually gettable for batsmen-heavy RCB, who aim to finish matters in 19 overs while chasing. But, on a Kotla track where the strokes aren't all that easy to conjure up, they fell short by 37 runs. The genius in Gautam Gambhir — the captain, not the fielder — kept the batsmen on the hop by some clever mixing of his bowlers. Rajat Bhatia and Pradeep Sangwan bowled well in tandem, holding the pace back, keeping things tight and keeping the asking rate climbing. RCB may have hoped briefly when three Ross Taylor sixes in an over had Gambhir scratching his head but his dismissal soon sent the crowd into raptures and sealed the affair.