Punjab turn the tables on Gayle
Johan van der Wath bowled a beauty to Paul Valthaty off the first ball of the day, hardly an indication that a punishment was in store. It landed on leg stump and zipped away to beat the outside edge. Some swing, some movement, encouragement for the bowlers, or so we thought.
Adam Gilchrist had been quiet the first six overs. Several attempts to glance the ball fine had resulted in leg-byes, a few deliveries were mistimed and he appeared more at ease, ceding floor to his opening partner. But we first got a sign of what was to come in the seventh over, when a short one from Abhimanyu Mithun disappeared into the stands behind deep square leg. It was Gilchrist's 100th six in Twenty20 cricket, and was just the beginning of the end for Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Such has been his form this season, not many would have ruled out Bangalore's chances even in a chase of 233. Kings XI Punjab had succumbed to Chris Gayle's hurricane century when they last played Bangalore, but would have felt they had turned the tables when he failed to make contact with a single delivery in the first over of the chase against Praveen Kumar. He played and missed four deliveries and left two alone in a maiden over, and the first ball he did connect, he edged to be caught brilliantly by Gilchrist. A seven-ball duck and the result, despite Bangalore's batting line-up, seemed a foregone conclusion.
Three different deliveries, but the result was the same. Charl Langeveldt varied his lengths thrice in as many balls, but his helplessness was apparent when each of them disappeared for sixes. The first one was a slower ball pitched up; smashed over long-off. The second, a waist high full toss; hammered over deep midwicket. And the third, a short ball on middle; pulled away over square leg. Virat Kohli was speechless, Langeveldt deflated and Gilchrist celebrated their misery by raising the bat for his half-century.
Shaun Marsh matched Gilchrist shot for shot, and left van der Wath scarred with a ruthless onslaught in his second spell, crushing any hopes Kohli had reposed in his seamer to contain the Australian pair. It was poor on the part of van der Wath to dole out length deliveries but Marsh ensured he was unforgiving in his treatment. A six over long-off, three consecutive drives through extra cover for four, a short ball pulled over the midwicket fence and to cap it all, a perfect, lofted straight six in an over that fetched 30.
It had rained prior to the match and it rained during its course. Right after Marsh had feasted on van der Wath, the rain picked up, threatening to ruin the flow of one of the most dominating displays this IPL. The umpires consulted, and called for the covers and just as the groundsmen ran in, almost as if it was out of pity for the packed house, the rain relented and the umpires changed their decision in a matter of seconds.
Siddhartha Talya is a sub editor at ESPNcricinfo