IN THE last two T20 games played at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, 836 runs have been made in 78.3 overs. Fans of Royal Challengers, though, aren't worried by this appalling lack of challenge for batsmen. Their home team has now entered the final of the Champions League, chasing down 200-plus for the second game in a row.
New South Wales did most things right today after being inserted by Daniel Vettori. The Australian side imposed themselves on Bangalore's bowlers in making 203-2. David Warner's stunning 123 (68b) and his power-packed 146-run stand with wicketkeeper batsman Daniel Smith set the tone for the day.
In these times when bats are heavy, boundaries are short, and bowlers are masochistic creatures who exist only to be punished, a single act of defiance makes a huge difference. So it was today. RCB's Tillakaratne Dilshan bowled his four overs for just 10 -- a fine achievement in a game where 26 sixes and 34 fours were scored.
The theme repeated itself during Bangalore's chase, when Patrick Cummins' three wickets in four balls gave Bangalore a scare. Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli had their feet on NSW's throat. Gayle (92 off 41b, 8x6, 8x4) nearly became the first batsman to score four T20 hundreds, and added 141 off just 66 balls with Virat Kohli (84, 49b, 10x4, 3x6), who guided them home.
Young seamer Cummins, barely out of school, had conceded 22 in his second over. In his third, he removed Gayle with a marginal LBW, and then beat Saurabh Tiwary's high backlift with a fast yorker. He missed a hat-trick by a ball, dismissing Mayank Agarwal with a dubious caught-behind.
Cummins' first 16 balls went for 1-42; in his last eight balls he had 3-3. A couple of quiet overs went by, before Kohli shot Bangalore out of a panicky situation, taking 16 off Mitchell Starc's 18th over. It was easy thereon.
The disturbing thing about today's game is that most of the 26 sixes weren't small ones, especially during Bangalore's chase. Gayle and Kohli consistently hit them several rows back. In one case, Gayle cleared the roof.
Smith had plenty to say from behind the stumps as he had while batting. Sreenath Aravind gave him a mouthful as he walked off. During the chase, Gayle had to step in to break an argument between Smith and Kohli, who was extremely expressive today, celebrating his sixes and fours by punching the air.
Warner's brutal innings made it the first occasion of a batsman making back-to-back hundreds in T20 cricket. Three days ago in Chennai, his unbeaten 135 had knocked the defending champions Super Kings out of the tournament.
He had struck eight sixes and 11 fours there. Today, the short boundaries of the Chinnaswamy Stadium proved no challenge for him.
Warner's Australian counterpart Dirk Nannes and Aravind were singled out for punishment. Warner went after nearly everything they'd bowled at him. Nannes conceded 36 off 15 balls to him and Aravind 39 off 15.
The highlight of the innings, however, was the switch-hit off Raju Bhatkal. Warner spotted the slower one early, changed his stance and grip, and slogged the ball wide of midwicket. Or would that be extra cover?