Chargers knock out Challengers

Chargers knock out Challengers

Bangalores nine-run defeat ensures Chennai Super Kings a berth in the play-offs

Chargers knock out Challengers

Between Deccan Chargers and Chennai Super Kings, it was difficult to say which one was the happier bunch on Sunday evening after the Hyderabad outfit stunned Royal Challengers Bangalore here at the packed Rajiv Gandhi Stadium.

The Chargers have been the favourite whipping boys of IPL V but in the last three days they proved to be the perfect party poopers with two back to back wins. On Friday, Chargers had put an end to Rajasthan Royals’ hopes of making it to the paly-offs with a five-wicket win. On Sunday, the hosts pulled off a nine-run win, only their third victory at this venue, that put paid to Bangalore’s aspirations.

The Challengers’s defeat meant defending champions Super Kings will play the Eliminator on Wednesday in Bangalore against Mumbai Indians for a place in the Qualifier 2 that will be played in Chennai on May 25.

The Challengers have to blame themselves for the outcome. Boasting one of the best batting line-ups in the league, the Bangalore side made a heavy weather of Chargers’ modest total of 132/6, constructed largely on the back of Jean-Paul Duminy’s whirlwind 74 (53b, 4x4, 5x6), by replying with 123/9 in what was easily their worst batting display of this season. When Chris Gayle took paceman MS Gony for 24 runs (4, 0, 4, 6, 4, 6) in the second over of the innings, the match appeared headed for an early finish, but Steyn, who was the villain of the piece in the teams’ previous meeting, produced one of the most devastating T20 spells (4-0-8-3) that knocked the stuffing out of the Challengers.

After Steyn’s opening three-over spell (3-0-7-2) during which he accounted for both Gayle and Tillakaratne Dilshan, leg-spinner Amit Mishra came up with another inspired spell (3/25) to suffocate the chase further. Skipper Virat Kohli (42, 40b, 2x4, 2x6) and to a brief extent Saurabh Tiwary (30, 27b, 1x4, 1x6), who had earlier retired hurt due to a hamstring niggle, kept the Challengers hopes alive but their efforts weren’t just adequate. With the equation reading 22 from the final two overs, Challengers needed Tiwary to stay till the end but the left-hander was out off the first ball of the 19th over to all but seal their fate.

Master stroke

Kohli’s decision to chase the target turned out to be a master stroke with almost all his bowlers producing a disciplined performance. Zaheer Khan set the trend by dismissing Chargers’ prolific scorer Shikhar Dhawan in the first over, the ball just kissing the bail.

Vinay Kumar (3/22), Challengers’ highest wicket-taker of the season, built on the early success by removing another opener Akshath Reddy in the fourth over, and when Cameron White was scalped by the impressive Prashanth Parameswaran with a well-directed bouncer in the very next over, Deccan’s charge had been effectively derailed. Skipper Kumar Sangakkara and Duminy then set about the repair job that was understandably loaded with circumspection. Half-way through the innings the hosts had managed not even fifty and when Sangakkara was caught in the deep off Muttiah Muralitharan, Chargers threatened to go under 100.

Duminy, having spent a good time in the middle, then exploded in stunning fashion. The southpaw, who hit the first six of the innings off Vinay, then took on Muralitharan whose final over leaked 20 runs that included three sixes. With Parthiv Patel providing stability at the other end, Duminy went on the offensive as Chargers hammered 44 runs in three overs between 16 and 18 that proved to be decisive.