The M Chinnaswamy Stadium was a giant party waiting to take off. The noise when Chris Gayle walked out to shadow practice mid-pitch, like he usually does before facing the first ball, was deafening. There was an air of expectation as Ashish Nehra ran in to send the first ball, which thudded into Gayle's pad to trigger a spontaneous appeal. A quiet first over later, the crowd once again built their cheer into a crescendo as Bhuvneshwar Kumar ran in. On the third ball of his over, there was stunned silence as the ball deflected off Gayle's thigh pad onto the stumps. He looked back in disbelief before slowly trudging away.
If Gayle doesn't, AB will
A strong crowd in upwards of 25,000 didn't get the value for money Gayle has offered them for years now. Within a few seconds, the stunned silence gave way to fervent chants of "ABD, ABD". The speed at which the ball flew off his broad blade right from the outset was perhaps a sign of things to come. Before long, fans were left quenching their thirst due to their parched voices as de Villiers got stuck in to Ashish Nehra. A fierce pull for four in front of square was followed by a clean swing like a golfer that sent the next ball soaring over the sightscreen. Then a rasping cut followed two balls later; within the bat of an eyelid, the pressure was back on Sunrisers Hyderabad. Those three deliveries were just a teaser to what was to follow for a better part of the innings as he sent not just the bowlers, but even the crowd, on a leather hunt.
Bhuvneshwar's agony after ecstasy
There weren't too many bowlers who would have raised their hands after the kind of carnage Sunrisers ensured in the first 15 overs of their bowling. For Bhuvneshwar, it was an opportunity to establish his death-bowling credentials again, as he speared four yorkers, which the batsmen couldn't get underneath. One of those was a superb wide yorker which de Villiers couldn't reach for and was called wide; replays suggested the ball was well inside the wide line. What did he do next? He speared in another yorker two balls later, this one on the base of the stumps and it disturbed the zing bails as Kohli failed to jam his bat down on time. After four unsuccessful attempts, he was fifth time lucky.
But the highs of his third over were quickly forgotten as he lost his radar in his quest for more yorkers as the street-smart Sarfaraz Khan lay into him. Using the pace, the sprightly teenager used the crease well to paddle, reverse-paddle and scoop his way to an enterprising cameo. And Bhuvneshwar's final over had been smashed for five fours and a six as he walked off wondering what could have been.
Sarfaraz's street-smart ways
He's short and stocky, but the punch in his strokes can't be understated. His methods of wielding the long handle are a refreshing change from the norm. Teeing off in front of the pitch isn't Sarfaraz's thing. His fascination lies behind square. One such ramp shot had everyone sit up and take notice. Seeing Sarfaraz walk across the stumps in the 19th over, Bhuvneshwar speared one full and wide outside off. The street-smart character that he is, Sarfaraz immediately angled his bat face towards third man, got underneath the ball and found the sweet spot as it sailed away over the third-man boundary and landed in front of his team's dug-out.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo