Following what has been a fairly disappointing start to the ninth edition of the Indian Premier League, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers took it upon themselves to provide much-needed impetus to the tournament, with a rollicking 157-run partnership off just 87 balls. A whopping 110 of those runs came in boundaries as it rained fours and sixes in Bangalore.
Of course, the match ended up being a one-sided affair yet again as only David Warner put up a hint of a fight for Sunrisers Hyderabad. But, a fourth consecutive lopsided match notwithstanding, the RCB batsmen did breathe some life into the tournament.
And sitting helplessly in the SRH dugout was VVS Laxman, who could do nothing but watch in wonder as the ball flew to all parts of the Chinnaswamy Stadium — a couple of times, nearly out of the stadium too.
"It was magic," said the SRH mentor, when asked if it was hard not to admire batting of such quality.
"It is amazing to see the way Virat continues to score so consistently, for whichever team he plays and whatever position he bats in. It is great to see the kind of level he has taken his T20 batting to; he is one of the most exciting batsmen in world cricket. His consistency and adaptability is phenomenal," Laxman told the IPL website.
Batting at No 3, something he did not do for South Africa during their ignominous World T20 campaign, de Villiers played the aggressor in the partnership, taking off after reaching his half-century. "From RCB’s point of view it was good to see AB de Villiers perform like that. He didn't have a great World Twenty20 and he must be disappointed that South Africa, despite being one of the strongest teams in the tournament, didn’t qualify for the knock-out stage," Laxman said.
"I am sure he wants to make it count in this IPL and this was a great start for him. That is one power-packed batting order that RCB have, with Gayle, Virat and AB in the top-three and Watson coming in as well. Now they also have Stuart Binny, Sarfaraz and Kedar Jadhav, which makes their line-up very formidable," he added.
New RCB recruit Shane Watson said it was a pleasure to watch ABD bat. The South African batsman hammered Hyderabad's bowlers around the park with a whirlwind knock of 82, laced with seven fours and six shots over the ropes.
"What I saw tonight is as good as batting I have ever seen. He didn't look like taking risks at all in his entire innings. One shot he played off the back foot for a six is an incredible shot to play, and he does it with so much ease; it really is a pleasure to watch. He executes his shots incredibly well," he said.
Not to be left out of the action, the impressive Sarfaraz Khan grabbed some headlines of his own — no mean feat when playing alongside the likes of Kohli-ABD-Gayle-Watson. He brought out scoops, reverse paddles and slog sweeps in a marauding cameo at the end, making 35 runs off 10 balls — decorated with three fours and three sixes. And it came at a crucial time as well as RCB had just lost both Watson and de Villiers in one over.
"I am very impressed with him. He is a young boy, but the kind of confidence he shows and his body language is really good to see," Laxman told the IPL website. "It bodes very well for Indian cricket to see such youngsters do well at this level against international bowlers. Some of the shots that he played were mind-boggling."
Watson went a step higher in praising the youngster. "He is an incredible young man and there is no doubt that he has worked extremely hard to get all kinds of shots right. The control over shots he has... Never seen before for a young talent like him. It shows he has practised hell of a lot, and we saw him this [against SRH]," he told reporters at the post-match press conference.
Perhaps the comment of the night came from the 'Universe Boss' himself, Chris Gayle. Speaking during the innings break, he said Sarfaraz is like a son to him!
— HoldingWilleyCricket (@holdingwilley) April 13, 2016
Well, if you are 'buddy' with the Universe Boss, you have done pretty well for yourself, Young Sarfaraz.
Twitter was full of praise for the batting effort from RCB as well.
— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) April 12, 2016
— Sir Ravindra Jadeja (@SirJadeja) April 12, 2016
— Sid Mallya (@sidmallya) April 12, 2016
When you play among players like
Stealing a show with the bat is not easy but Sarfraz Khan just did that!
— Broken Cricket (@BrokenCricket) April 12, 2016
Sarfaraz Khan making Kohli and De Villiers look like Chanderpaul.
— Trendulkar (@Trendulkar) April 12, 2016
Form is Permanent
Class is Permanent
Consistency is Permanent
Destruction is Permanent
— Broken Cricket (@BrokenCricket) April 12, 2016
After that batting effort from RCB, one can only hope the tournament clicks into top gear as the second round of fixtures get underway on Wednesday.
Updated Date: Apr 13, 2016 17:16 PM