If this were a tennis match, Gautam Gambhir would have been down 0-2 in the first set. The first ball he faced from Vinay Kumar, he charged down the wicket, looking to counter the movement he can extract and reassured by his lack of pace, but this time the ball hit the splice of the bat, and broke it into two. Gambhir was left with the handle of the bat in his hand with the rest flying towards cover.
The brief return
Ambati Rayudu last played in match atmosphere on January 30, in an ODI against England in Perth. Back then he was squared up, he opened the face and edged Stuart Broad to the wicketkeeper. Since then he watched the World Cup from the bench. He would have expected some relief coming to the lower and slower pitches of India, but Gautam Gambhir denied him any. He had the tall and strapping Morne Morkel bound in at Rayudu and had two slips in. Morkel bowled short of a length, extracted disconcerting bounce, and two balls into his innings Rayudu was hopping and opening the face again. This time first slip took the catch.
From the moment it was cleared by the BCCI, Sunil Narine's action was the most looked forward to aspect of the IPL opener. While he did continue wearing long sleeves, Narine's was a changed action. The first ball he bowled was a full toss driven away for four. His team Kolkata Knight Riders have shown exceptional trust in him by keeping him for the final few overs, but here they bowled him out early. Narine went for 28 runs in his four overs, looking less effective, but this might be too early to judge a spinner just coming back into action. He did continue taking the ball away from the right-hand batsman, and had Rohit Sharma dropped off the outside edge.
There is nowadays a remarkable predictability to Rohit Sharma and big feats. His 264 at the same venue was more predictable than a century used to be not long ago in ODIs. The way he sets up at the start and explodes in the end, Rohit almost always looks set for an otherwise unprecedented score, be it a double hundred in ODIs or a hundred in T20s. When he began to attack Umesh Yadav in the 15th over, he was only 46, but 18 runs in that over later, you knew he was on track for a hundred. Almost uneventfully he reached 93 with the final over to go. Corey Anderson, though, hit the first two balls big and Rohit got the strike only on the fourth ball. He hit a four on the fourth ball, but hit the fifth straight to long-on, which meant he could get just the single and was stranded on 98.