Bangalore: A heart-breaking loss in a Super Over two days ago and a rare second successive failure for Chris Gayle were brushed aside as Royal Challengers Bangalore, powered by an innings of beauty and brutality by Virat Kohli (93 not out in 47 balls), coasted to a seven-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on Tuesday (April 9).
After Hyderabad had put up a strong 161 for 6 on the board, Bangalore's chase looked in trouble when Gayle fell to Ishant Sharma. But Kohli seemed unperturbed, first getting to a half-century in 31 balls, and then cranking up one more gear in his batting to see Bangalore home in just 17.4 overs.
The Gayle versus Dale Steyn duel, which had failed to materialise two days ago, was given full play with Gayle stroking Steyn's first ball through the covers for four and Steyn roaring back with a testing over that ended with a snorter pinging Gayle on the helmet.
Ishant then silenced the home crowd an over later with the perfect delivery to Gayle - back of a length and moving away a touch - to induce an edge.
However, with Kohli still there, the crowd soon found their voice again - a voice that only rose in volume as the match drew towards its conclusion.
The passage of play that decisively turned the match in Bangalore's favour followed immediately after the dismissal of AB de Villiers, included in the playing XI after landing in the morning from South Africa. Kohli and de Villiers had resurrected the innings with a 49-run stand in 5.5 overs when de Villiers hit a long hop that could have gone anywhere straight to Hanuma Vihari at midwicket, leaving Bangalore 96 for 3, needing 66 to win in eight overs.
Kumar Sangakkara, the Hyderabad captain, took a chance, bringing back Steyn to finish his spell, but Kohli and Moises Henriques could afford to play Steyn out carefully. As soon as Steyn was bowled out, Kohli seized the moment, dispatching Amit Mishra for two sixes and a four in a 21-run over that left the result beyond doubt. To drive the point home further, Kohli hit 42 runs off the final 15 balls he faced.
That Bangalore had a decidedly above par total to chase was thanks to an 80-run partnership in just 44 balls between Thisara Perera and Cameron White for the fourth wicket in the Hyderabad innings. On either side of that, the batsmen struggled to come to terms with a pitch that was considerably different in character than the one on which Bangalore beat Mumbai Indians by two runs on Thursday.
The surface then had offered prodigious movement for the quicker men, whereas for this match, with significantly less grass than five days ago, the ball wasn't exactly coming on to the bat. The initial part of Hyderabad's innings attested to that, and even the Perera-White stand was neatly divided into two halves, with the first 22 balls netting only 22 runs, and the next 22 balls disappearing for a whopping 58, as the two batsmen seemed to send the ball over the fence almost at will. Perera ended with 40 in 24 balls, and White matched him shot for shot in making 52 in 34.
As a result, at the halfway stage, it seemed Perera and White had done enough to maintain Hyderabad's unbeaten run in the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013. However, they had reckoned without Kohli.