The sleeping giant that was IPL 2016 sprung to life in a high-scoring clash. Royal Challengers Bangalore blasted the first 200-plus score of the tournament in an emphatic 45-run win over Sunrisers Hyderabad at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. In doing so, they also bucked the season’s early trend of chasing teams prevailing.
AB de Villiers (82) and Virat Kohli (75) provided a visual treat courtesy a fine cocktail of fineness and brute force in a 157-run second-wicket stand, before Shane Watson announced himself by muscling three successive sixes in an over from Karn Sharma. The final flourish was lent by Sarfaraz Khan, who in his typically unorthodox fashion, paddled and reverse-paddled his way to an unbeaten 10-ball 35 as Royal Challengers finished with 227 for 4.
Deflated and dejected, Sunrisers went for broke, wiping out 83 for the loss of Shikhar Dhawan in eight overs. David Warner, who returned to open after a brief flirtation in the middle order with Australia in the World T20, showed why he is one of the most feared white-ball strikers. He muscled three sixes and five fours in a 21-ball half-century before falling into the short-ball trap laid by Watson.
The pressure of the required rate eventually got to Sunrisers and the chase went cold as the team lost Warner, Naman Ojha, Henriques and Deepak Hooda in the space of 17 deliveries, meaning they could only muster 182 for 6. Parvez Rasool was the pick of Royal Challengers’ bowlers, returning 1 for 31 in a crafty spell of offspin bowling, even as Watson and Yuzvendra Chahal, the legspiner, chipped away with two wickets.
Chris Gayle’s dismissal for 1 in the second over of the match to Bhuvneshwar Kumar, when the ball brushed the thigh pad and deflected onto the leg stump, was a rare moment to cheer for a listless Sunrisers bowling attack that was further depleted when Ashish Nehra, their pace spearhead, hobbled off the field after just 2.1 overs. That resulted in a batting feast for two men in a murderous mood as Royal Challengers blasted 139 off the last 10 overs.
The only semblance of respect from Kohli and de Villiers came early on when Mustafizur Rahman, making his IPL debut, troubled them with his cutters. Once the job of seeing off his initial burst – a two-over spell – was done, they let loose. Sarfaraz’s unbeaten 44-run stand off just 15 deliveries with Kedar Jadhav ensured Royal Challengers had momentum firmly by their side at the break.
Dhawan’s early wicket to Rasool was a setback for Sunrisers, but Warner’s muscle kept his team in the hunt as Kohli rang in the changes in a bid to pull things back. Adam Milne’s second spell, in which he had Moises Henriques mistime a pull to midwicket, opened the game up. Once Royal Challengers had one foot in the door, it was a simple matter of forcing it open, which they did quite easily. In the end, even Ashish Reddy’s big hitting was merely a footnote for Sunrisers in what was a forgettable outing.