Bangalore: A Chris Gayle-less Royal Challengers Bangalore overcame two tricky situations, the first with the bat and then with the ball, to open their IPL 5 campaign with a 20-run win over Delhi Daredevils at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. RCB were struggling for momentum during their innings, having lost six wickets for 103 runs before AB de Villiers, who struck an unbeaten 42-ball 64, and Vinay Kumar (18) put on 54 in 5.3 overs. Their bowlers, despite the loss of Virender Sehwag for a first-ball 0, were under a bit of pressure as Naman Ojha and Aaron Finch threatened to wage a counter-attack but in a crafty Muttiah Muralitharan the home team had the desired wicket-taker. Murali, in his first IPL match for RCB, took 3 for 25 as Delhi were kept to 137 for 7, falling to their first defeat at this venue.
In the absence of Gayle (injured) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (national duty), Bangalore opened with Cheteshwar Pujara and the Victoria allrounder Andrew McDonald, who powered a 37-run opening stand in four overs. A flowing drive over extra cover for six off IPL debutant Doug Bracewell was an appetizer for what McDonald was in the mood for, and in the third over it was Irfan Pathan who felt his full force. Twenty runs came in four deliveries as McDonald hammered boundaries past mid-off and mid-on, dumped a big six over long-on and slapped the final ball over the covers for four more.
Morne Morkel removed Pujara for 11 - pulling to deep square leg – and added McDonald owing to a stunning piece of fielding from Bracewell, who made his first impact for Bangalore with a superb one-handed running catch from midwicket. Given the ball promptly after his athletic effort, Bracewell had his first IPL wicket when Virat Kohli spooned a catch to Yogesh Nagar at backward point for 8.
Matters got worse when Saurabh Tiwary was trapped lbw off offspinner Glenn Maxwell's first ball in the IPL (59 for 4). Mayank Agarwal – demoted to the middle order after his previous appearances for RCB – hit a few lusty blows including a sweet pick-up six off Mornel, but his aggression consumed him. Looking to hit Shahbaz Nadeem's left-arm spin for six, he succeeded in picking out Nagar at long-off.
Luckily for Bangalore, they had de Villiers. Punching the ball around the park and running superbly between wickets, and setting himself up for a late surge, de Villiers produced a sparkling half-century. His first boundary took 20 balls, but de Villiers ensured RCB got at least one boundary in the 13th, 14th, 15th and 17th over before he tore into Irfan in the penultimate. When Irfan let loose a full toss outside off stump, de Villiers astonishingly switched his grip to lap six over third man. Irfan erred in sending down another full toss, and this time de Villiers dinked it to third man for four with another reverse-paddle. The next ball was a far more orthodox shot, as de Villiers swatted a length ball outside off stump to the square-leg boundary. He only managed to get on strike for two balls in the final over bowled by Bracewell, who conceded two fours and took two wickets.
In the second innings, Zaheer Khan opened the bowling sporting new straightened hair, but his length was all over the place and Finch clubbed his first three deliveries for four. Zaheer was lucky to pick up Sehwag first ball as the Delhi captain slapped a wide ball straight into Pujara's lap at cover. That brought to the crease Ojha, who began with a four and six off Vinay and kept the tempo going against Zaheer, cutting and driving him for boundaries.
With RCB's medium-pacers having little impact, the turning point came when Daniel Vettori tossed the ball to Murali, with Delhi well placed at 53 for 1 after seven overs. With his third ball Murali forced Ojha (33) to cut a catch to Kohli at slip and in his next over trapped Finch lbw for 25. Then Maxwell lapped Murali to Zaheer at short fine leg, Delhi slipping from needing 100 from 12 overs with eight wickets in hand to 82 from eight with six wickets left.
Once Agarwal held a blinder of a diving catch running in from long-off to send back Venugopal Rao, Delhi's hopes lay with Irfan. He managed to spoil Murali's final over with a four and six, but as wickets tumbled at the other end the run rate mounted and Delhi ended up 21 runs short of their target.