Deccan Chargers recovered sensationally after being in the doldrums at 14 for 3, the result of Dale Steyn’s magical opening burst, to stun Bangalore Royal Challengers by 13 runs. After Rohit Sharma and Monish Mishra combined to help Deccan reach a somewhat respectable total of 151, the bowlers fashioned a dramatic reversal at Nagpur.
Rahul Dravid and Jacques Kallis had taken Bangalore to 74 with ease after the loss of an early wicket. At that stage, the game seemed headed for a one-sided finish. But, once Dravid was dismissed by Andrew Symonds, caught in the deep one short of his half-century, things turned dramatically.
As wickets fell, it was only Robin Uthappa who kept his team in the hunt. But, after having played batman for so many games this season, he was bound to end up on the losing side someday. Painfully, it was this day.
Even as Bangalore faltered, no praise can be too high for Deccan’s bowlers. Right from the start, they were focussed. Ryan Harris, in an endeavour to bowl fast, ran in hard and was rewarded with his first ball itself. Manish Pandey was too late on an outswinger and only managed to edge it to a thrilled Adam Gilchrist.
And, while Dravid and Kallis batted like true veterans reading the game perfectly, Deccan did well to ensure that neither blazed away. Dravid was the more aggressive of the two, with some fluent strikes all round the wicket. His 49 was punctuated with eight boundaries, but his dismissal punctured what was until then a fluent chase.
Following Dravid’s departure, Kallis needed to take on the responsibility of guiding the team home. But, while he managed to reclaim the orange cap from Sachin Tendulkar, he wasn’t able to translate his start into a match-winning knock. He was deceived in the air by Pragyan Ojha and returned with 27 to his name.
Still, at 95 for 3, Bangalore remained favourites, but some splendid bowling from the unpredictable R P Singh turned the tide. Ross Taylor was castled by a yorker and Cameron White holed out. At the other end, Ojha got rid of Virat Kolhi and the chase had lost steam. Uthappa struck two magnificent sixes off Ryan Harris’ bowling, but Harmeet Singh got him for 34 with a well-directed straight delivery. That clinched it for Deccan.
No one would have given the ‘home’ side a chance after the disastrous start they were off to. Steyn ran in as fast as he could and knocked over the top three in no time. Adam Gilchrist was done in by one that left him, but not before taking the edge, T. Suman could not handle his short snorter while Herschelle Gibbs had no answer to his country-mate’s outswinger that beat him all ends up and crashed into the stumps.
In the third over, Deccan were gasping for breath at 14 for 3 and Anil Kumble’s decision to bowl first was justified. Steyn could have had another victim in his kitty, but for an edge falling short of slip. It was just the stroke of luck Deccan needed.
Mishra and Rohit Sharma took up the mantle of rebuilding with a sense of responsibility. The former played the aggressor between rotating the strike while Sharma timed the ball sweetly, just as he has being doing in his recent outings. The two took the score close to 100. And, with some help from Symonds and Harris, they managed to cross 150, enough for their charged up bowlers.
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