With him at the crease, a storm is always brewing, a fact the big Jamaican is well aware of, as are his teammates. Little wonder, then, that till well beyond the halfway mark of the Royal Challengers Bangalore’s chase against the Kings XI Punjab, little urgency was shown by either Chris Gayle or AB de Villiers.
It’s not a term one associates with the slam-bang version of the sport, but their partnership, for the most part, was just that — workman-like. The duo undid the good early work done by Parwinder Awana and, in the process, overhauled the team's record fourth-wicket partnership — 87 runs put on by Jacques Kallis and Rahul Dravid in Delhi in 2008.Expectedly, they cut loose soon thereafter, with Harmeet Singh Bansal bearing the brunt, with Praveen Kumar and former Pakistan all-rounder Azhar Mahmood — the local hero of the first session — also taking some stick. Eventually, both fell, but, contrary to what the scorecard might suggest, the Bangalore boys eased home with three balls to spare.
Breaking the norm
Earlier in the evening, it was a pleasant departure from the patterns that have come to the fore one-third the distance into IPL V. Kings XI Punjab batsmen can be trusted to make any bowling attack look good. RCB bowlers have the ability to play any batting line-up back into form. And in Mohali, no matter who the hosts are facing, affairs are so drab that not even the live entertainers inside the stadium can shake the usually boisterous Punjabis populating the stands out of their stupor.
It was more or less going down according to the script till the end of the 15th over. Vinay Kumar had been uncharacteristically restrictive, but RCB’s fifth bowler — Harshal Patel on Friday night — had gone for plenty. And, for the most part, the KXIP batsmen did not try to force the issue; on the rare occasion when someone did, they perished.
Something had to give. And it did, when, for the first time, walked in the most anticipated foreign player of this season — Mahmood.
Clearly, the former Pakistani international hadn’t had the time to go through the script, what with his visa woes and all. Having been granted the permission to play in places other than Mohali and Delhi and wormed his way into the side with a foreign player’s slot opening up due to Adam Gilchrist’s injury, Mahmood dug in, first into Patel and then — surprise, surprise — Vinay.
RCB’s numbers four and five returned combined figures of two for 84 off eight; KXIP, on the other hand, posted their highest total this season, thanks mainly to Mahmood’s frenzied 33 off 14 balls.