There is no doubt that Chris Gayle has the most vocal fan following at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. His explosive hitting and party-goer image has endeared him to the crowds wherever he goes.
But West Indies showed in the World Twenty20 that they can win even when the big Jamaican fails, Gayle having failed to click after scoring that breathtaking century against England.
Monday’s match was seen as a contest between the Sunrisers pace attack and RCB’s formidable batting. Ashish Nehra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and IPL debutant Mustafizur Rahman bowled three tidy overs to start with.
Two to tango
But that was it. AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli then took the attack apart in a 157-run second-wicket partnership off 87 balls, providing RCB a roaring start to IPL 9. Their 227 for four is the eighth-highest IPL total --- RCB own the record of 263 --- and it effectively ended the contest.
Sunrisers didn’t have much chance after that, and they ended at 182/6. Skipper David Warner, back as opener after being pushed to No 4 in the World T20, struck a rapid 58 (25 b, 4x4, 5x6) but no other batsmen were up to the task.
Sunrisers Hyderabad skipper David Warner chose to bowl first on an excellent pitch. And Bhuvneshwar Kumar got Gayle in the second over, playing on to the stumps off his thigh pad. But the crowd chanting ‘Gayle, Gayle’, quicky switched to “ABD, ABD”. There weren’t many Kohli chants to begin with. At times you take you take your own for granted.
Same old story
In their last face-off in 2015, RCB had achieved a target of 81 in six overs against their Hyderabad opponents to boost the net run rate and qualify as the third-placed team from the group stage. On Tuesday, SRH were again made to feel the force of RCB’s batting might.
The South African was fluent. Kohli took a while to get used to the extra bounce. But once set, both batsmen tore into the bowling. Kohli loves to chase, but he anchored the innings superbly. Nehra, Bhuvneshwar and Aussie all-rounder Moises Henriques all went for runs and leg-spinner Karn Sharma looked pedestrian.
Kohli (75 – 51 b, 7x4, 3x6) and AB de Villiers (82 – 42 b, 7x4, 6x6) fell in succession but Mustafizur removed de Villiers and Shane Watson off successive deliveries in an impressive debut. But Sarfaraz Khan (35 no – 10 b, 5x4, 2x6) demolished the bowling further.
Shikhar Dhawan’s unsteady run continued, bowled by Parvez Rasool’s off-spin. When Watson got Warner to miscue a pull, Sunrisers needed almost 150 more. Without Kane Williamson to anchor, there wasn’t much hope left.