The Royal Challengers didn't have too hot a start, which is critical to do against the Sunrisers because the middle overs are manned by Rashid Khan. His four overs were always going to be crucial, and the Royal Challengers needed their big three of Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Glenn Maxwell to take Rashid on and deny him his usual breakthroughs. Rashid bowled 18 balls to the three combined, gave up only 15 runs and took the wicket of the most dangerous of them all in de Villiers. It was a masterclass in T20 bowling, never offering a hit-me ball and still being threatening enough that batsmen of that quality had to protect their wickets. He ended with 4-0-18-2 across two spells, having conceded only a solitary four.
The last time Maxwell had scored a fifty in the IPL was before Rashid Khan was even part of the IPL, way back in 2016, when he made 68 off 42 against Kolkata Knight Riders. A new franchise, the surety that he'll be batting at four and a team management that clearly believes in him, have started Maxwell off better in this IPL than he has in years. He wasn't fluent to start with, having come in the over before Rashid started bowling, and took a while to get used to the pace of the Chepauk pitch. He was on 9 off 16 at the halfway mark, when he got stuck into Shahbaz Nadeem, looting two sixes and a four in a 22-run over, and then kept ticking to tide over the loss of Kohli and de Villiers, before crunching boundaries at the death, with 24 runs biffed off his final 11 balls. He brought up his half-century in the last over, off 38 balls, and ended with 59 off 41. That the Royal Challengers got something to bowl at despite Kohli never taking off in making 33 off 29 and de Villiers out for just 1 off 5, was down to Maxwell.
After a failure in their opening game loss, David Warner was at his blistering best. He didn't get much of the strike initially, but that didn't hamper his rhythm, with the boundaries flowing. In perhaps a tactical error by the Royal Challengers, Warner faced only two balls from Washington Sundar, who was brought on in the powerplay alright, but only in the fifth over.
Warner's dismissal still left the Sunrisers needing 54 off 40 with eight wickets in hand, a fairly straightforward task in most T20 chases. However, the Royal Challengers bowled a succession of tight overs that inched the required rate forward, until Kohli brought on Ahmed for the 17th over. Both Pandey and Bairstow thought that was an over they could target to ease up the chase, but Ahmed's variations in angles and awkward height meant none of the batsmen could quite get a hold of him, and each one ended up skying the ball for easy catches. That one over completely turned things around and the Sunrisers' brittle middle order cracked under the pressure, as batsmen kept falling even as the required rate kept rising.
Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo