If the Royal Challengers Bangalore bowling doesn’t get you, the batting will. That was the message sent out by the semifinalists of the last edition in their opening tie against IPL newcomers Kochi Tuskers Kerala.
Set a stiff 162 to get at 8.1 an over, the RCB batting might came to the fore to eclipse not just their own modest bowling show but also that of the Kochi batsmen, who had earlier given their strong home supporters a lot to cheer.
They won with six wickets and eight balls to spare but it was not as if RCB had it easy all the way. In fact until KTK skipper Mahela Jayawardene inexplicably brought on local lad Raiphi Vincent Gomez with RCB requiring 33 from the last three overs, the match could have still gone the hosts’ way.
The young man did consume Saurabh Tiwary (26, 25b, 2×4) but then with AB De Villiers around, he still conceded 20 off his only over to hand the momentum and eventually the match to RCB. At that point, Sreesanth, RP Singh and Vinay Kumar had still an over each to go.
De Villiers (54 not out, 40b), who had initially allowed RCB’s young opener Mayank Agarwal (33, 24b, 2×4, 2×6) to set the tempo after the early loss of T Dilshan, after having smashed five sixes and a lone boundary, then watched another young man Asad Pathan smash Vinay Kumar to the fence to bring about the win.
For Kochi earlier, it wasn’t quite mayhem but nearly so as Brendon McCullum found the form that has eluded him in New Zealand colours. The faster that Dirk Nannes bowled, the faster McCullum slammed him. The left-arm quick’s first three deliveries produced 4, 4 and a huge six over midwicket.
With fellow opener VVS Laxman being in his elements too, it was a two-pronged attack. That the wristy Hyderabadi used more than just those famous wrists, bringing on some rarely seen brute power as well, as when he smashed Abhimanyu Mithun for a six over long on, sent the already excited crowd into further raptures.
RCB captain Daniel Vettori had to ring in the changes in an effort to get a grip back on the proceedings. The bowling changes didn’t immediately help, for where Nannes conceded 16 in his first over, Mithun gave away 19. It was left to Dilshan to draw first blood for RCB, Laxman (36, 28b, 2×4, 2×6) holing out at mid wicket. Virat Kohli then had McCullum (45, 32b, 4×4, 2×6) skying a scoop shot.
The openers, with a 55-ball 80-run start had laid the base though and from thereon it was matter of kicking on.
But with Vettori the captain putting aside the frustration and allowing the bowler in him to take over and conceding a meagre 17 from his four overs, Kochi didn’t quite get as much they would have hoped for. And on the night it wasn’t quite enough either.