Duminy's 99 outdoes Bangalore
At this venue in 2008, Brendon McCullum slammed the most famous Twenty20 century to knock the stuffing out of Royal Challengers Bangalore. On another starry South Indian night, against the hosts again, JP Duminy struck the most awesome 99 you will see in this format to take the Cape Cobras to a thrilling last-over victory.
And so a new chapter in the rapidly growing Twenty20 format has begun. After a gala opening ceremony reminiscent of the opening night of the first IPL, the two teams treated a capacity Chinnaswamy Stadium to a superb exhibition of Twenty20 overs. Anil Kumble had no hesitation in batting first on a good batting track and 20 action-packed overs later the Cobras had their task cut out, after Robin Uthappa and Ross Taylor starred in a powerful batting display. But Duminy thumped five sixes and eight fours in as clinical and perfect a display of shotmaking as you could hope to see, and his partnership of 61 with Ryan Canning transformed the game after Bangalore had grabbed three early wickets in defence of 180.
The Cobras were in real strife early on with the bat, as Herschelle Gibbs edged Praveen Kumar behind in the first over, and captain Andrew Puttick followed suit with a leading edge to point. Henry Davids played a couple of handsome strokes but when Virat Kohli took an easy catch at point off R Vinay Kumar, the scoreboard showed 62 for 3.
As he has done at the international stage, Duminy didn't waste time in finding his range. Kumble continued to vary his pace and fed Duminy a steady diet of googlies; Duminy was beaten on occasions but replied with deft boundaries, the pick being a cut behind short third man for four. There was a moment of drama, too: Taylor dropped a dolly at long-off when Duminy was 23, after which a dead ball was called because the ball hit the cable of the fly camera.
Once he found his range, Duminy was unstoppable. Vinay was scooped for four and Roelof van der Merwe was driven over mid-on for six. After getting to 50 in 30 balls, Duminy stepped up a notch and Canning played his part with 20 from 18 balls.
The game was wide open when the Cobras needed 54 off five overs. That was eased significantly as Kohli's part-time medium-pace went for 13 in the 16th over, Kumble and van der Merwe were struck for big sixes and Vinay was mowed for boundaries either side of the pitch. Duminy's final six took him to 99 yet, cruelly, there was to be no century as Rory Kleinveldt finished the deal with two balls remaining.
This seemed a distant possibility after 20 overs in the field, when the Cobras seemed distinctly overawed by the moment and a packed house breathing down their necks, misfielding with alarming regularity and serving up a dozen too many full tosses. Uthappa paved the way with a belligerent but plucky half-century, being dropped on 18 and miscuing more than a few between catchers, and an astonishing assault from Taylor rounded flattened the attack.
Depleted by the injury blow to Charl Langeveldt in the sixth over, the Cobras were sloppy in the field, putting down three catches and missing a run-out. Uthappa was the beneficiary of one sitter and a couple miscues that dropped safely, and flourished in Rahul Dravid's company after Langeveldt took out Jacques Kallis early. Using his feet regularly to try and get on top of the bowlers, Uthappa pulled off some stinging shots down the ground and over midwicket, each of which the partisan home crowd cheered with gusto.
Dravid, dropped on 16, played some crisp and orthodox shots before he was run out for 28, after which Kohli was stumped for 17. But Bangalore took 61 off their final four overs, 40 of them in boundaries off just eight balls by Taylor, who picked up a 24-ball half-century off the final delivery of the innings, courtesy a top-edged four. Taylor has a penchant for clearing his front leg and heaving across the line, but this evening he was aided by an array of stray slower balls on the pads and rank full tosses.
A target of 181 ultimately proved a saunter with Duminy at his dazzling best. Tonight a new chapter began, one that could dictate the future of club cricket.
Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo