The raucous noise from the blowing of horns filled the evening air at the Sharjah stadium after a gap of 14 years on Thursday. The noise had a distinctly partisan tone as Royal Challengers Bangalore supporters outnumbered Delhi Daredevils fans. There was murmur too, among fans mystified by Chris Gayle’s omission from the playing eleven. Some joked that it was a pawn for pawn -- to balance the teams after injury had ruled out DD skipper, Kevin Pietersen.
It was redemption time for Yuvraj Singh too. The man who came under fire after failing to get going in the World Twenty20 final defeat against Sri Lanka, made RCB feel good about their big buy first up. While Virat Kohli was left frustrated 10 days ago, this time his partner was more in cruise mode.
While the 84–run third wicket partnership was pivotal, Delhi, after a pathetic 2013 IPL season, let slip the game off the last delivery of the 13th over. South African paceman Wayne Parnell got Kohli, then batting on 24, to play that wristy flick. But Mayank Agarwal, in perfect position at square leg, dropped the simple catch.
It was 89 for two. That slip was enough as RCB raced to victory in 16.4 overs, after a slew of sixes from Kohli against leg spinner Rahul Sharma with Yuvraj too shifting gears at the other end.
RCB skipper Kohli had inserted the opposition and triggered a mini-crisis first up. Opener Agarwal, even before he got his eye in, tried to swivel and pull a delivery from Mitchell Starc, only to be caught at mid-wicket. Stand-in skipper Dinesh Karthik discovered format change didn’t matter. Having fumbled in the Asia Cup, he poked at a ball which swerved away late, Albie Morkel’s height and extra pace adding to his discomfort, to be gone for a first ball duck. Four balls later, Manoj Tiwari edged one to the ‘keeper, Varun Aaron taking a wicket off his very first delivery.
And just when Murali Vijay seemed to be coming good after hitting a four and a six, he was beaten and bowled by a YS Chahal turner.
But JP Duminy and Ross Taylor took charge of the damage control act. With DD looking at a slim score, Duminy took it upon himself to belt one over the sight-screen off Yuvraj, and followed it up with a four and six off Dinda in the 18th over.
Taylor swished at the other end and a couple of them found the outside edge to the third-man boundary. Delhi suddenly looked good to cross the 140-mark. And Duminy’s hits off Dinda helped the pair to post a century partnership, giving their bowlers something to defend.
Delhi Daredevils: Dinesh Karthik (capt), Murali Vijay, Mayank Agarwal, JP Duminy, Ross Taylor, Manoj Tiwary, Jimmy Neesham, Wayne Parnell, Shahbaz Nadeem, Rahul Sharma, Mohammed Shami.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (capt), Parthiv Patel, Nic Maddinson, Yuvraj Singh, AB de Villiers, Albie Morkel, Sachin Rana, Ashok Dinda, Mitchell Starc, Yuzvendra Chahal, Varun Aaron