Royal Challengers Bangalore kicked off their new campaign with a six-wicket victory over IPL debutants Kochi Tuskers Kerala at Kochi. They overhauled the 161-run target with eight balls to spare thanks to an excellent unbeaten half-century from South African AB de Villiers.
20-year-old batsman Mayank Agarwal smacked 33 runs off only 24 balls to get the Challengers to a recovering start after his much celebrated partner, Tillakratne Dilshan failed in his first game for his new IPL team. He was out for just 1 run, caught off Sreesanth by a diving Brendon McCullum.
He was joined in by another youngster in Virat Kohli, as the two put on 41 runs for the second wicket in just about four overs. It wrested the initiative back in their team’s favour after the early blow and when Kohli was out in the sixth over, it set the stage for AB de Villiers.
Kohli scored 23 runs off 18 balls with four fours.
De Villiers tanked the Kochi bowling to all parts of the ground as he brought up a sizzling half century to guide the Challengers to a win. The South African moved over from Delhi Daredevils – also joined by Dilshan and captain Daniel Vettori – and celebrated his first game for them in style. The fireworks didn’t begin till later though, as he first went about building small partnerships, first with Agarwal and then with Saurabh Tiwary. The former was out in the tenth over with the score at 85 for 3 and either result still possible.
But even as Tiwary scratched around for 26 runs off 24 balls, de Villiers took Raiphi Gomez to the cleaners. He hit the 18th over for 20 runs, smacking three huge sixes off the former Rajasthan Royals player. His outburst brought about his fifty as well as virtually assured the win for his team, and the formalities were duly completed in the next over when Asad Pathan – not related to Irfan and Yusuf Pathan – hit R Vinay Kumar for three boundaries.
Earlier, Kochi Tuskers won the toss and decided to bat first. Brendon McCullum and VVS Laxman, both opening for their new team, provided a fiery start. The fifty came up in only the 6th over, and then eighty in nearly nine overs, as both batsmen hit two sixes each. McCullum also hit four fours and Laxman add two more. The stylish Indian batsman departed first, out for 36 runs off 29 balls, caught by Cheteswara Pujara trying to slog sweep Tilakratne Dilshan. McCullum left three overs later, out for 45 runs off 32 balls, almost raising vision of another swashbuckling innings. That Virat Kohli was brought on to stop them told of Bangalore’s desperation at the opening stand.
After his dismissal though, they managed to pull it back somewhat. In the last eleven overs, Kochi were only able to add another 81 runs. Skipper Mahela Jayawardene was out stumped for 18 off 18, his counterpart Daniel Vettori nabbing his wicket. Brad Hodge and Ravindra Jadeja combined for fifty runs in the end, as the batting side lost much way after their rousing start. Hodge was bowled by Zaheer Khan, returning to Bangalore after two seasons, for 27 runs. Jadeja, who missed the last season through suspension, finished 23 not out, with two fours and one six.
© Cricket World 2011