Royal Challengers Bangalore's run rate on Tuesday night was 13.15 an over. There was Chris Gayle and there was also AB de Villiers, whose exhibitions in big-hitting lifted them to the biggest total ever in Twenty20 cricket. Yet, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the Pune Warriors seamer, conceded 23 runs in 24 balls. His team-mates' economy rates, Luke Wright apart, varied between 12.00 and 29.00.
While that was personally satisfying, Bhuvneshwar said it was a night when it was natural to regret becoming a bowler. "As a team it was a tough match to play but individually for me it was good. We gave away 265 runs out of which I gave only 23 runs. That was satisfying for me," he told the IPL site after the match. "[But] when Gayle bats like that nobody wants to bowl, especially on a wicket like this where the ball comes on well onto the bat. All I can say is that it's tough luck for the bowlers if he decides to bat like that."
In all Bhuvneshwar bowled seven balls at Gayle, conceding 11 runs. At the start of the game, Bhuvneshwar said, he was eager to get Gayle out as soon as possible, but as the match progressed he was happy to get him off strike. "With the new ball I was trying to get him out because he's that kind of batsman who can make up later on even if you bowl some dots to him initially," he said. "In the death overs I just tried to keep him off strike so that I can bowl to the other batsman. I just tried to keep the ball away from his body so that he can take a single and get off strike.
"During the first strategic timeout we spoke of getting him out as soon as possible. But we couldn't do that. We could have bowled better but then you never know. We tried to do different things but he just kept hitting. Ishwar Pandey was playing his first match in this tournament and he went for 21 runs in the first over, and he obviously became nervous. It happens when you're playing against Gayle."
Warriors now have four points from eight games and the worst net run rate among all nine teams: -1.467. They had experienced a high after ending an 11-game losing streak by beating Rajasthan Royals and then upsetting Chennai Super Kings at Chepauk, but have since three matches on the trot again. Gayle's innings will prove to be a particularly tough blow to take, Bhuvneshwar said: "It is very difficult [to recover from an assault like this], especially for us as we are going through a tough time.
"All we can do as a team is stick together and keep backing each other. We're trying to be as positive as we can and can only hope for the best from here."