Gautam Gambhir had begun the tournament with an eight-ball zero in Abu Dhabi, and followed it up with a four-ball blob in Dubai. Ahead of the toss in Sharjah he said, "Looks a belter, so hopefully I can get some runs." He didn't, lasting all of one ball as he was done in by a full swinging delivery from the pacy Mitchell Starc to complete a collection of ducks in every IPL venue in the UAE.
Forty-two year-old Muttiah Muralitharan was playing his first game of the season, and also his first in over three months. There was no mercy from Chris Lynn, though, as the spin great wheeled in for his first delivery. Lynn played the quintessential Twenty20 shot, the slog-sweep, to send the ball soaring beyond the rope. Not just beyond the rope, it nearly crashed into a giant-screen displaying Muralitharan's photo and stats. Lynn repeated the dose later in the over, a flatter six that just cleared the boundary as Muralitharan conceded 15 in his first over.
Muralitharan's first ball had been hit for six, but Royal Challengers Bangalore's other spinner, Yuzvendra Chahal, hadn't been hit for a boundary in both previous games this season. The streak might have extended further than Chahal's first over today, if Mitchell Starc had held on to a difficult chance at deep midwicket. After Lynn swung the ball towards the boundary, Starc ran across to take the catch, sinking to his knees at the last moment; the ball popped out of his hands and hit his chest before he held on on the second chance. In the process, however, Starc's feet brushed the rope. Chahal didn't concede any other boundary in his spell.
Suryakumar Yadav has already given notice of his ability to innovate with a casual reverse-flick for four off Corey Anderson in the first match of the season. He showed more of that skill today against Ashok Dinda in the 19th over. Dinda fired in a 141.6kph ball full and wide outside off, to which Suryakumar responded by stepping forward, bending his back leg and slap-sweeping it to the midwicket boundary. Even as the commentators raved about the stroke, Suryakumar attempted the shot twice more in the over, botching it both times, taking some of the sheen off the original effort.
Morne Morkel was steaming in, regularly bowling shortish deliveries close to 150kph, but despite several swishes and misses there was no breakthrough. In Morkel's second over, Yogesh Takawale started to connect, and scored a crisp boundary behind square before edging between the wicketkeeper and slip for four more. That prompted some snarling from Morkel, and the bowler's mood didn't improve after there was another four in the over. At the end of it Morkel, among the tallest players in the tournament, had words with Parthiv, among the shortest players in the tournament, his arm brushing Parthiv's helmet as he walked past. Parthiv replied with an outburst of his own, but the two patched up soon after with a fist bump.
For a description of Lynn's game-changing catch, click here
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo