Disciplined Pune outplay uninspired Deccan
Deccan Chargers were handcuffed by Yuvraj Singh's round-arm left-arm spin, submitting to a middling total after a flashy start. They lost two wickets to Yuvraj at crucial junctures, and scored only 17 off his four overs. Mitchell Marsh and Rahul Sharma did their bit too, conceding 49 in their eight overs. Marsh was rewarded handsomely with three wickets in the 19th over with frustrated batsmen looking to force the pace. Jesse Ryder and Manish Pandey made light work of the chase, although this game was inconsequential to qualification for further rounds.
The match might not have an impact on who goes to the playoffs, but it grew immensely as drama when Yuvraj announced at the toss that Sourav Ganguly was finally going to play in this year's IPL. Having been ignored by his home side Kolkata Knight Riders, and picked by Pune Warriors only after an injury to Ashish Nehra, Ganguly came in to bat with the win more or less in the bag, but found time to hit a trademark six over midwicket off Amit Mishra in an unbeaten, run-a-ball 32. One member of the enthusiastic crowd found his way onto the ground, and fell at his feet during the break after Robin Uthappa's wicket.
The chase by then seemed easy, but with the way Shikhar Dhawan and DB Ravi Teja started the game, a facile win would have been the last thing on Pune Warriors' minds. They brought up the fifty in the sixth over, but Yuvraj dismissed Dhawan in his first over, and the squeeze that followed slowed Deccan down. Five fours and two sixes were hit in the first six overs, only six boundaries in the rest of the piece.
Dhawan and Teja were good against the medium pace of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shrikanth Wagh, and Dhawan welcomed Rahul Sharma and Wayne Parnell to the crease with sixes. When he tried to do the same to Yuvraj, who had brought himself on to stop the bleeding, the bowler pulled the length back, bowled a little slower, and Dhawan could only sky him to cover. Marsh followed it up with a played-on dismissal of Teja's. At 56 for 2 in the eighth over, Kumar Sangakkara and JP Duminy tried to make sure there were no more quick strikes.
However, Rahul beat Sangakkara's sweep with a flat, straight delivery. Yuvraj came back, and tortured Daniel Christian with deliveries that wouldn't spin. Finally Christian played around his front pad to be caught dead plumb. At 98 for 3 in the 15th over, the onus was on Duminy to take Deccan to a good total. However, as has been the case of late, Duminy couldn't make a telling contribution, managing a run-a-ball 30.
Dale Steyn, faced with the prospect of defending a pedestrian total, took matters in his own hands, and scored 10 off the last over, in the process scoring only the third boundary since the 15th over. Ryder, though, was quick to see off the only threat to their chase. He punched, drove and hooked Steyn for four, four and six in the first over. Between them, Ryder and Pandey scored 84 off 62, which basically finished off the chase.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo