Challengers end with a flourish

Kumbles men seal Champions League spot with a nine-wicket victory over DC

Challengers end with a flourish

Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Jacques Kallis (right) celebrates with skipper Anil Kumble (centre) the wicket of Deccan Chargers’ Anirudh Singh during the IPL third-place play-off match on Saturday. PTIAlong the way, Anil Kumble’s men nailed down India’s final Champions League spot, crushing perennial bugbears Deccan Chargers in a mismatch of a third-place play-off involving last year’s finalists.

Unsurprisingly, it was the skipper who was again in the forefront in making sure that there was no lack of intensity in a contest mentally the toughest on both beaten semifinalists. Not for the first time this season, Kumble outwitted his opposite number Adam Gilchrist, this time with a full toss in the evening’s first over, a blow the defending champions didn’t recover from at all.

Despite opting to bat first on a sluggish surface not ideal for Twenty20 cricket, the Chargers could muster no more than 82, the lowest total of this year’s Indian Premier League, being bowled out with nine deliveries left unutilised.

Gifted with a wonderful chance to arrest a three-match losing streak to the Chargers, finish third and secure their Champions League berth, the Challengers coasted to 86 for one, and a commanding nine-wicket victory.

A total in the region of 130 might have stretched the Bangalore boys. As it were, Rahul Dravid and Kevin Pietersen toyed with the bowling, the target being scaled down with a whopping 37 deliveries to spare.

No praise can be too high for man of the match Kumble, who took it upon himself to ensure that he lifted his team for this game. The skipper took the new ball and, despite being cover-driven straightaway by Gilchrist, hit back to get rid of the out-of-form left-hander in the same over. It triggered an ungainly procession from and to the middle as one batsman after another perished to loose strokes, not all of them necessarily brought about by the bowling.

Kumble finished with the most impressive figures of four for 16, but this was a collective show of brilliance with the surprise package being debutant left-arm spinner Nayan Doshi. Son of former India spinner Dilip, the 31-year-old justified his inclusion with a brilliant spell, enjoying the turn he got from the surface and posing numerous problems for the batsmen.

It appeared as if the Chargers were least interested in making a match of it. Rohit Sharma and Andrew Symonds were both dismissed playing what can at best be termed loose strokes, while Dwayne Smith, coming in for Herschelle Gibbs, was clueless against Kumble and bowled through the gate.

At 35 for five, the Chargers were in genuine danger of being completely humiliated, threatening the Rajasthan Royals’ 58 against the Challengers last year as the lowest total ever in IPL history.

Fortunately for them, the feisty Anirudh Singh and Y Venugopala Rao, both drafted in for this game, restored some semblance of respectability with a sixth-wicket stand of 43 (41b), after which the wheels completely came off.

For the first time in this competition, there were two wicket-maidens in the same innings as Jacques Kallis emulated Dale Steyn. Kumble then returned to winkle out the last two wickets in three deliveries as the Chargers lost five wickets for four runs, and the race for the third place.

Gilchrist might have opted for Purple Cap holder Pragyan Ojha’s left-arm spin first up given the purchase Doshi in particular got, but he opted for the conventional in Ryan Harris and Symonds. Jacques Kallis took his time until forcing leggie Rahul Sharma straight back to him, but Dravid batted quite beautifully and Pietersen was his usual bustling self so that victory was achieved with consummate ease.

Score Board

DECCAN CHARGERS: Adam Gilchrist c Kallis b Kumble 4 (4b, 1x4), Mohnish Mishra lbw Praveen 0 (1b), Anirudh Singh b Kallis 40 (39b, 4x4, 1x6), Rohit Sharma c Pietersen b Praveen 0 (4b), Andrew Symonds c Uthappa b Steyn 2 (8b), Dwayne Smith b Kumble 5 (8b, 1x4), Y Venugopala Rao c White b Doshi 24 (27b, 2x4, 1x6), Ryan Harris lbw Kumble 3 (10b), Rahul Sharma b Kallis 0 (6b), Harmeet Singh (not out) 0 (0b), Pragyan Ojha c Kallis b Kumble 0 (2b). Extras (LB-1, W-3) 4. Total (all out, 18.3 overs) 82.
Fall of wickets: 1-4 (Gilchrist), 2-4 (Mishra), 3-15 (Rohit), 4-27 (Symonds), 5-35 (Smith), 6-78 (Anirudh), 7-82 (Venugopala), 8-82 (Rahul), 9-82 (Harris).
Bowling: Anil Kumble 3.3-0-16-4, Praveen Kumar 4-0-18-2, Dale Steyn 3-1-11-1 (w-2), Nayan Doshi 4-0-17-1 (w-1), Kevin Pietersen 1-0-10-0, B Akhil 1-0-6-0, Jacques Kallis 2-1-3-2.
Scoring pattern: 5 overs: 20/3; 10: 43/5; 15: 78/5; end of innings: 82 all out in 18.3 overs.
Runs during Power Play: 1-6 overs: 27/3.

ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE: Jacques Kallis c & b Rahul Sharma 19 (32b, 3x4), Rahul Dravid (not out) 35 (30b, 5x4), Kevin Pietersen (not out) 29 (21b, 1x4, 2x6). Extras (B-1, LB-1, W-1) 3. Total (for 1 wkt, 13.5 overs) 86.
Fall of wicket: 1-36 (Kallis).
Bowling: Ryan Harris 3-0-14-0 (w-1), Andrew Symonds 3-0-17-0, Pragyan Ojha 3.5-0-22-0, Rahul Sharma 3-0-24-1, Harmeet Singh 1-0-7-0.
Scoring pattern: 5 overs: 26/0; 10: 53/1; end of innings: 86/1 in 13.5 overs. Runs during Power Play: 1-6 overs: 33/0.

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