If you aren't a fan of the Royal Challengers Bangalore, there's good news and bad news. The good news first: Tillakaratne Dilshan has found form late, and will not unleash any more violence in the IPL, since he is headed to England. The bad news is that Chris Gayle is in such form that you probably wouldn't notice Dilshan's absence. And then there is worse news - Bangalore are fielding like a team possessed. The hapless Kochi Tuskers Kerala ran into each of these facets of Bangalore's brilliance, and were brushed away by nine wickets, with 6.5 overs to spare.
On a day when their franchise went green, Gayle and Dilshan did more than their bit for the environment, setting up a finish before the floodlights had to take full effect. Gayle began the mayhem by depositing RP Singh into the second tier behind long-off in the first over. Dilshan responded by looting 20 runs off Ramesh Powar in the second over. What followed was not for children and the faint-hearted.
At the start of Prasanth Parameswaran's over, if you had stopped him and said he was going to do worse than concede six sixes, he would have laughed it off. After all, he was a man who had stared Virender Sehwag in the face and nailed him in his first IPL over. Today was a different day, though.
Parameswaran chugged in and delivered a length ball first up, and Gayle carved it over point for a six. Parameswaran did not flinch; Sehwag had done likewise the other day before perishing. Today, Parameswaran's second ball was a slower ball. Bad idea. Even worse, it was a no-ball. Gayle slashed him for six more. The free-hit was thumped through midwicket. The next ball was thundered through the covers. By now, Parameswaran was clearly rattled, and he ran in robotically to delivery two more length balls. Six over cover, followed by a shimmy down the track and a 91m six over long off. The last ball was a high full toss, and Gayle inside-edged for four more. The over had gone for 37, and Parameswaran had a story his grandchildren would ask him to relate years from now. Kochi, meanwhile were looking at an early flight out. Dilshan ensured they would have enough time to beat the Bangalore traffic and make it to the airport in time.
Incredibly, Bangalore were just as brilliant on the field earlier in the day. Daniel Vettori sparkled with some masterly bowling changes on a sluggish track. He brought himself on after his fast bowlers had allowed Kochi to get off to a good start, and stalled them with two huge wickets. His fielders - from the usually nimble AB de Villiers, to the rarely agile Zaheer Khan - responded with sparks of brilliance on the field, and Kochi lurched from 64 for 1 in eight overs to 89 for 5 in 14, before finishing on an unconvincing 125 for 9.
Kochi's problems began with Brendon McCullum's inability to adapt to the slowness of the strip, though Michael Klinger's smart footwork got them early boundaries. Vettori switched to Plan B after four overs, bringing Chris Gayle and himself on. McCullum charged Gayle for two fours, but Vettori foxed him with a clever change of length, lulling him into an awry swipe.
Parthiv Patel kept looking for boundaries, and Kochi had managed at least one in each of the first eight overs. The party was about to end though: Bangalore struck in each of the next three overs. Klinger yorked himself by charging out to Gayle, before Vettori cracked the game open by getting Mahela Jayawardene's to edge behind. Bangalore's fielding then took centre-stage.
Brad Hodge nudged his first ball backward of point and took off for a non-existent single. Parthiv responded before pulling out of the run, and was soon running alongside Hodge towards the bowler's end. AB de Villiers pouched the very wide throw on the dive with his left glove and, not knowing that both batsmen were stranded close to the other end, threw down the stumps in one smooth motion as he tumbled.
Three overs later, Zaheer Khan bettered the effort: Hodge whipped S Aravind off the hips and the ball was hurtling towards the boundary when Zaheer jumped up full length and intercepted with one hand at short fine leg. Kochi were visibly stunned, and never looked like recovering. Bangalore's fielding kept bettering itself, right up to the last over where Kaif took a brilliant catch running forward, and de Villiers slung-shot another run-out. At that point, the home crowd already had seen a spectacle from their side. What followed after the break was just plain cartoonish violence.