Deccan end Pune's slim hopes
Deccan Chargers 138 for 4 (Sohal 34, Dhawan 28, Rahul 2-25) beat Pune Warriors 136 for 9 (Marsh 37, Christian 2-13, Mishra 2-26) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A bowling attack having four Test bowlers bowled to its world-class potential for once and Deccan Chargers' batting did not stumble chasing a middling total to end Pune Warriors' slim hopes of making the play-offs.
Amit Mishra, Pragyan Ojha, Dale Steyn and Ishant Sharma gave the Pune top- and middle-order a complete working over, each posing various problems of flight, turn, pace and bounce. For once, Daniel Christian was much more than just the supporting cast, and the result was that apart from the opening over, there was only one team that dominated most of the match, and it wasn't Pune. Had it not been for Mitchell Marsh's counterattacking innings, Pune would have struggled even more.
After Kumar Sangakkara began with JP Duminy in his last IPL game, the introduction of Steyn and Ishant was the start of Pune's woes. Manish Pandey looked as out of place as a bargain hunter in a fixed-price store, top-edging half-hearted pulls and slashing wildly over slip.
Jesse Ryder looked much more comfortable, but he fell to a blinder from Ravi Teja at cover, who dived to his left to pouch a powerful drive. Sourav Ganguly did not last long. His first attempt to carve Christian over extra cover resulted in a swing-and-miss. The next one resulted in a simple chance to Ojha at mid-off. Ojha foxed Pandey with one that came in to uproot middle stump.
Pune were already in trouble at 45 for 3 when they ran in to Mishra, Deccan's most successful bowler this season, and the architect of their surprise win over Mumbai Indians. The first delivery struck Robin Uthappa on the pads as he missed the flick, the fourth was a loopy legbreak that dipped on him and produced a fatal leading edge that popped to Mishra. The fifth was even better. It was tossed up outside off stump and Mithun Manhas set himself up for the cut, expecting it to turn away. To his horror, it was the googly that turned in and bowled him off the inside edge as Pune slipped to 45 for 5.
Once again, it was down to Yuvraj Singh to lift Pune out of the hole the other batsmen had dug. Yuvraj looked the part, slamming Ojha for consecutive boundaries in the tenth over, but he could not hang around for long, top-edging a wild pull off Christian to Sangakkara.
Marsh showed glimpses of why he is talked about so much, smacking the spinners for sixes after having taken his time to settle. Deccan managed 34 runs off the last three overs, courtesy Marsh and Wayne Parnell, and that lifted them to a fighting total which they would have gladly taken at 45 for 5. Deccan hadn't won a match chasing this season, and Pune hadn't won while setting a target. The latter trend was to continue.
Pune's only hope was to rattle Deccan's brittle batting line-up early but with both Shikhar Dhawan and Sunny Sohal managing to perform to expectation, their slender hopes of making the play-offs started to disappear. The Deccan openers stuck to their usual selves; Dhawan chugged smoothly to 28 before throwing it away, Sohal threatened to do so throughout his 34 before Rahul Sharma trapped him leg-before.
While Dhawan drove and punched for delightful boundaries through extra cover, Sohal did what he does best, swing at everything, hit some and miss some. There were sixes over extra cover and long-on; he also earned a wide for height as he fell away trying to flail at a short ball from two feet outside leg stump. An opening stand of 67 in 49 deliveries meant Pune needed Deccan to fall apart like they themselves had earlier, but Sangakkara and Duminy ensured Pune were firmly shut out of the game, and knocked out of the race for the play-offs. The only thing Deccan were left wondering was how their season could have gone if their potential had been realised earlier.
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo