Synopsis: Bangalore throw in the towel after relentless Bairstow-Warner onslaught.
Bangalore throw in the towel
Royal Challengers Bangalore knew they had a mountain to climb. In pursuit of 232, they needed a blistering start up front, like what Jonny Bairstow and David Warner had provided for the Sunrisers Hyderabad. In the bid to get the desired momentum, Shimron Hetmeyer was propped up to open the innings with Parthiv Patel. For Bangalore, their sole crumb of comfort was the feather-bed Uppal pitch. But it was evident that the Bairstow-Warner carnage in the first innings had left Bangalore shell-shocked, and bereft of the will or the energy to put up the desired fight. Mohammad Nabi, the Afghan off-spinner, playing his first game, gave the home team the requisite thrust. He accounted for the crucial scalps of the RCB openers as well as their middle-order bedrock AB de Villiers and the hard-hitting Shivam Dube. Nabi was well complemented by medium pacer Sandeep Sharma, who helped himself to three wickets, with a mixture of seam-ups and knuckle balls.
Together, they broke the back of RCB, leaving them 35/6. From there on, it was only a matter of time before they capsized. The visitors dragged on to 113, but it still meant a 118-run humiliation. It was yet another match in this season when Virat Kohli’s team were collectively outplayed by a superior opponent. In the interview with the broadcasters, Kohli summed up his team’s no-show. “Probably our worst loss ever. This is a difficult one to explain. We were outplayed in all departments by a quality side. This showed why they are former champions and finalists. We could have tried different things, like bouncers. They batted really well once they got in. They were brilliant to sustain intent for the first 16-17 overs,” he said. And really, the match was over in those “16-17 overs”.
Considering his commitments with the ECB, most franchises viewed Jonny Bairstow as a difficult buy in this IPL auction. This was the reason why he did not elicit a frenetic bidding war. So, when Hyderabad splashed Rs 2.2 crore on him, there were a few eyebrows raised and some pertinent questions asked. Will he be available for the entire duration of the tournament? Where will Hyderabad accommodate him in the line-up? By his standards, Bairstow’s 2019 has been rather sedate, with only three fifties in 12 innings across all three formats for England. But in the first week of IPL-12, the Yorkshireman has rediscovered his touch.
At the outset, the decision to ask Bairstow to open proved to be a masterstroke. The move seems to have liberated him. He did get off to promising starts in the first two matches — scoring 39 in Hyderabad’s season-opener against the Kolkata Knight Riders and followed it up with another counter-attacking innings of 45 against the Rajasthan Royals at Uppal. Through these knocks, he forged two century partnerships with Aussie David Warner.
On a hot and sultry Sunday afternoon, as the Uppal transformed into an orange cauldron of frenzy, Bairstow gave further validation of his big-hitting prowess.The 29-year-old pummelled Virat Kohli’s hapless Royal Challengers bowling attack into submission, smoking 12 boundaries and seven sixes to bring up his first century in IPL. His 56-ball 114 saw an audacious display of power-hitting that caught everyone by surprise.There were several standout attributes about Bairstow’s knock today. The most compelling being that his blitzkrieg put someone as rampant as Warner in the shade. In the first two matches, Warner was the aggressor, while Bairstow was be happy to be his understudy. On Sunday, there was a role reversal.
The sight of Moeen Ali opening the bowling for Bangalore could have been the trigger that got Bairstow going. He slapped his England teammate for three boundaries. He then followed it up with a brace of boundaries against Mohammmad Siraj. A belter of a pitch and an insipid RCB bolwing attack meant that Warner, too, would get into the act. They cantered along at an incredible pace, not once letting the foot off the accelerator.
The pair brought up their third consecutive 100-run opening partnership well before the 10th over. In between clearing the boundary ropes, they even ran hard between the wickets. Even as the mercury hovered above 40, it did little to dampen their spirits. Between them, they ran 12 doubles. Warner alone ran 50 off his 100 runs. Consequently, there were only 25 dot balls in the whole innings.
Bairstow raced to the three-figure mark in the 16th over, with a tap towards deep backward square-leg off RCB’s debutant leg-spinner Prayas Ray Burman. It was followed by that all-too-familiar leap in the air and a firm hug from Warner. The camaraderie between an Englishman and an Aussie in an IPL match was a surreal sight. Warner, on his part, did not play a single false shot and maintained a strike-rate in excess of 180.
By the time Bairstow was dismissed for 114, the Bairstow-Warner stand had yielded 185 runs, which surpassed the unbeaten 184-run opening stand between Chris Lynn and Gautam Gambhir for KKR against Gujarat Lions in Rajkot in 2017. Warner provided the fireworks following Bairstow’s exit, racing to a century in just 54 deliveries. The blistering tons propelled them into the record books. This was only the second instance in this league when two batsmen notched up centuries, following Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers’ efforts for the RCB against the Gujarat Lions in 2016. The onus was on back Kohli and de Villers then. They made 3 and 1 respectively.