Gayle flops, de Villiers innovates
Over 66 balls in Bangalore the last time these teams met, Chris Gayle ransacked Pune Warriors with an unbeaten 175. Gayle is known to be a watchful starter, but in Pune, he appeared repressed on a slower pitch. He had inched - by his own standards - to 15 off 18 balls when T Suman began his second over. He smashed the spinner over the sightscreen for a high six, and signs of another 'Gaylestorm' looked ominous. Not so. Gayle charged Suman the following ball, looking for another big hit, but miscued it towards deep extra cover where Bhuvneshwar Kumar took the catch. Gayle walked back for a relatively 'sluggish' run-a-ball 21.
Gayle's departure was only temporary relief for Warriors as they were to find out towards the end of Royal Challengers innings. AB de Villiers, one of the game's most dangerous finishers, played some jaw-dropping shots in the final over, but it was his first boundary in that over that stood out, more for its power. As Ashok Dinda ran in, de Villiers deliberately shuffled back and forth at the crease to unsettle the bowler's rhythm. Dinda fired it full outside the off stump but de Villiers not only covered the line but also got under the bounce to slog it flat and quick over the rope at deep midwicket. What made the shot all the more impressive was that he picked the longest boundary.
The near miss
Every new batsman would wish for an easy first delivery to begin with, a sighter before settling in for the innings. T Suman didn't have it easy. After bowling Aaron Finch off an inside edge, Moises Henriques bowled a near unplayable yorker to Suman. The ball swung back in and Suman nearly lost his balance as he tried to dig it out. The ball was headed towards the leg stump but an inside edge to the pads saved the batsman from being dismissed.
Virat Kohli's expressions and tense demeanour have made for interesting side shows in the IPL since he took over the captaincy. He was in full flow tonight as well when he reacted to an error from Vinay Kumar. Kohli had fumbled at mid-off and threw the ball to the bowler, but Vinay, in all the excitement, threw the ball to the keeper's end, failing to notice that Arun Karthik was not behind the stumps. The wild throw just missed the helmet placed behind the keeper and fortunately for the bowler, the fielders in the deep prevented four overthrows. Either way, Kohli wasn't pleased.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo