A brilliant ton from Virat Kohli and a massive blast from Shane Watson gave the Royal Challengers a seven-wicket win over the Pune Supergiants.
It certainly helped overcome the disappointment of AB de Villiers being dismissed for one. He went out for four last time out, but it’s worth remembering he had scored 316 in six previous innings.
Kohli, who ended on 108 off 58 balls, with eight fours and seven sixes, made a challenging total look easy, especially after Lokesh Rahul (38) helped him put on 94 for the first wicket in the 12th over.
The Supergiants might have been greatly encouraged when Adam Zampa snapped up De Villiers, five balls after removing Rahul, to leave the Challengers at 97-2 after 12 with a required run rate of 13.
Up stepped Watson. He took five fours off one Thisara Perera over, and two sixes off Bhatia the following over. He fell for 36 off 13 balls, but he had broken the back of the chase. Kohli finished it off in style, taking 17 runs off Zampa’s last over.
Earlier, the Supergiants set off at a cracking pace; putting on 26 before the first wicket fell after 14 deliveries. Usman Khawaja had contributed 16 of those off six balls.
Ajinkya Rahane (76) and Saurabh Tiwary (52) added 107 in the next 11 overs, and although MS Dhoni fell cheaply (9), as did George Bailey (0), Perera, Ravi Ashwin and Bhatia added a useful 33 off 17 balls. The Challengers may have wondered at that stage whether it was wise to leave out the new Protea, Tabraiz Shamsi, giving Chris Jordan his first IPL cap instead.
As it turned out, the target was nowhere near enough.