On a pitch where there was plenty of assistance for the faster men, the Chennai Super Kings outsmarted the Deccan Chargers at the D Y Patil Stadium to book their place in the finals against the Mumbai Indians. Under normal circumstances, 142 would not be a match-winning score, but on this surface, it was worth a lot more.
That said, it would be unfair to take anything away from Chennai’s bowlers, especially R Ashwin and Doug Bollinger, who kept things ridiculously tight in the first six overs, not allowing the opposition to score even at the pace of a run-a-ball. The fact that they managed to pick up wickets at will made the task doubly difficult for Deccan, who never recovered from the clumsy start and succumbed to a 38-run loss.
Earlier, Deccan were also effective with ball and, at one stage, had managed to reduce Chennai to 96 for 5 in the 15th over. Death bowling, however, proved to be Deccan’s Achilles Heel yet again as they allowed Chennai to recover to 142 for 7.
Despite the late surge by Chennai, Deccan would still have fancied their chances to chase down the target. However, their batsmen couldn’t stand up against a charged up opposition, who were going for the kill right from ball one. Dhoni opened with the trustworthy duo of Ashwin and Bollinger and the spin-pace combo did wonders for Chennai.
While the leg spinner tied up both Adam Gilchrist and Herschelle Gibss, Bollinger troubled the openers with his seaming deliveries. In between, he mixed things up with yorkers and well-directed slower balls, and was handsomely rewarded for it. After struggling for his 20-ball 15, the Deccan skipper fell to the left-arm quickie while trying to flick a good length delivery.
In the very same over, T Suman came in and blasted a four before being sent back, going for his second big hit. At 23 for 2 in the 6th over, Gilchrist’s men were off to an unimaginably poor start. Things were only to get worse though.
With the run-rate creeping up with each passing over, Rohit Sharma lofted Albie Morkel straight into the hands of Muralitharan at long-on for 4, while Gibbs (18 from 26 balls) was put out of his misery by Shabad Jakati, when his attempted cut missed the bat and crashed into the stumps.
At 48 for 4 in the 11th over, a miracle from Andrew Symonds was the only hope for Deccan, albeit a faint one. That too evaporated when he fell to Ashwin for 23. Bollinger returned to claim two more wickets and end with sensational figures of 4 for 13, which told quite a story.
It was a far from happy tale earlier in the day, however, after MS Dhoni won the toss and took first strike. Symonds, who opened the bowling along with Ryan Harris, made full use of the bowler-friendly conditions to have Chennai on the mat.
Harris, in particular, was lethal claiming both Matthew Hayden and Murali Vijay, the former after he was dropped twice. All the bowlers, except an erratic RP Singh, chipped in to keep Chennai under the pump.
S Badrinath and skipper Dhoni did feature in a steady half-century partnership. But, that did not hurt Deccan much though. What did hurt was the fact that S Anirudha smashed 24 from 15 balls to help his side cross 140.
The bowlers did the rest for Chennai. As far as Deccan were concerned, it wasn’t just destined to be their day. Two simplest of catches dropped at the start of the game was the earliest omen.
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