It was a run-fest of the highest quality. Virat Kohli, a machine going by his current form, delivered again. His 48-ball 79 powered Royal Challengers Bangalore to 191 for 5, and AB de Villiers and Shane Watson chipped in with 55 and 33. But their efforts were put to shade by Quinton de Kock, who made a bruising 51-ball 108, the first hundred in IPL 2016, to power Delhi Daredevils to a seven-wicket win at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. It was Daredevils’ first win over Royal Challengers since 2010.
While De Kock starred in the lead role, Karun Nair, who hails from Bangalore, played the supporting role in 134-run third-wicket stand that came off 76 balls.
Zaheer Khan, the Daredevils captain, was clear that the Kohli factor influenced his decision to bowl first. What he didn’t account for was a Chinnaswamy deck that looked biscuit brown and was ripe for a run-fest. On his part, Kohli showed he can be equally dangerous when setting targets. The groundwork was laid during the course of his second-wicket stand of 107 with de Villiers before Daredevils hit back with a tremendous exhibition of late-overs bowling courtesy the returning Mohammed Shami and Chris Morris, who conceded only 27 off the last four overs.
Daredevils were dealt an early blow when Shreyas Iyer was dismissed by Shane Watson and David Wiese, whose tag-team effort resulted in a stunning catch at long-on. But the early loss had little effect on de Kock as he pierced a packed off-side field for three fours off the offspinner Parvez Rasool in the second over.
De Kock was particularly punishing through the off side, a majority of his runs coming behind square. Once he was set, the other elements to his game surfaced. A nonchalant flick off Harshal Patel in the ninth over soared over deep square leg, and once he was into the 90s he used the pace to scoop the ball over short fine leg. The end result was a wagon wheel with spokes all around the wicket.
De Kock’s sparkling form helped Daredevils ride a trough when Sanju Samson struggled to play his shots, but his dismissal in the sixth over turned their fortunes. Nair and de Kock got stuck in against Yuzvendra Chahal, Harshal Patel and David Wiese, whose combined tally at one point was 78 conceded off seven overs. Their predictability put immense pressure on Watson to deliver with the ball as the equation came down to 56 off the last six overs.
By then, Nair was in his element. Not a shot was played in desperation or anger, and his sparkling form took the pressure off a tiring de Kock, who brought up his century off his 48th ball. Once into the home stretch, there was a sense of inevitability to the game. After De Kock walked off to a round of applause from Watson, who had him caught behind, Duminy struck the winning runs, Chahal fielding his straight punch but giving away an overthrow with an underarm flick to try and catch Nair out of his crease.
Chris Gayle’s dismissal in the first over to Zaheer silenced the crowd, but De Villiers and Kohli were least affected by the early loss, and carried on from where they had left off in the opening game. Ten fours and a six came in the first six overs as Royal Challengers moved to 63 for 1.
The spinners, Pawan Negi and Amit Mishra, fared only marginally better than the quicks in the face of the De Villiers-Kohli onslaught. It needed Carlos Brathwaite, the World T20 hero, to dismiss De Villiers in his first over to rejuvenate Daredevils. But within the bat of an eyelid, they were back under the cosh as Kohli and Watson took over.
With 21 coming off the 16th over, bowled by Zaheer, Royal Challengers were 164 for 2 and looked well set for a second successive 200-plus score. But the wickets of Watson and Sarfaraz Khan in the space of three balls set them back and denied the flourish they were looking for.