As the Royal Challengers Bangalore innings unfolded, boundaries flowed off AB de Villiers' bat with almost mind-numbing regularity. The number of fours and sixes made it difficult to appreciate each one individually. But, in the 16th over, when de Villiers swept Praveen Kumar for a massive six that hit the roof, an exception was made. In contrast with many of the flatter strikes up to that point, this one went very high up in the air. The ball kept sailing higher and further in an apparent quest to defy gravity. Only its collision with the roof stalled its determined progress. While the commentators roared their approval, both de Villiers and Virat Kohli gasped in awe of the sheer magnitude of the strike.
The stand-out shot
In a Royal Challengers innings that featured 20 sixes, arguably the most extraordinary and memorable shot went for four. When Pravin Tambe offered de Villiers a wide delivery outside off, the batsman waited till it was right next to him before he lofted it over point for four. Unlike an orthodox drive, this one was played while opening up the body towards point and, because of how late it was played, it resembled a scoop in many respects. "Inside-out scoop-drive over point" is not a phrase often used in cricket but, as de Villiers constantly expands his repertoire of shots, cricket jargon must strive to keep up.
Spinners relinquish the initiative
The Gujarat Lions opening bowlers Praveen and Dhawal Kulkarni got off to excellent starts bowling with great control to restrict the opening batsmen. Kulkarni dismissed a scratchy Chris Gayle to reduce Royal Challengers to 19 for 1 in the fourth over. But when Brendon McCullum assigned the last two Powerplay overs to spinners Shivil Kaushik and Tambe, the momentum shifted. A slew of half-trackers enabled de Villiers to get off to a flying start. Those two overs yielded 23 runs as Royal Challengers finished the Powerplay decently placed at 42 for 1. More importantly, the floodgates had been opened.
The infinitesimal silver lining
The Royal Challengers innings was nearing its end and de Villiers and Kohli had pummeled Lions' bowlers into a state of demoralised submission. They scoreboard read 248 for 1 with two balls to go. The crowd was going wild. The fielding team seemed to have nothing left to offer. But Dwayne Bravo provided Lions with the tiniest of silver linings when he leapt up at backward square leg to pull off a spectacular catch to send Kohli back. That silver lining became slightly bigger when Praveen had Shane Watson caught behind next ball to make it two in two and end the innings. Given the size of the cloud that went before, however, the silver lining paled into insignificance.