Dhawan puts Punjab out of contention
Deccan Chargers 198 for 2 (Dhawan 95, Ravi Teja 60) beat Kings XI Punjab 116 (Gilchrist 51, Mishra 4-9) by 82 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The happily-ever-after ending that Kings XI Punjab were expecting for their campaign slipped through their fingers, literally, in Dharamsala. Their rise from the dead has been the story of the IPL, but they crumbled in the field in a must-win game and were eliminated from the race for the play-offs.
Dropped catches galore, spiced up with misfields and missed run-outs, allowed Deccan Chargers' openers, Shikhar Dhawan and D Ravi Teja, to deliver just the kind of a partnership that would lift the spirits of a struggling team in its final game. While Amit Mishra did his bit with a hat-trick, it was their stand that put the task beyond Punjab's batsmen. The result meant Chennai Super Kings, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders qualified for the play-offs.
The first over set the tone for the day. There was encouragement for Praveen Kumar from the track, with the ball moving both ways, but there wasn't much the bowlers could do when not backed up by their fielders. Ryan McLaren missed an attempt to run out Dhawan first ball and Ravi Teja was dropped by Paul Valthaty in the deep moments later. Both chances were difficult, yet manageable, and proved decisive in the outcome.
The opening bowlers, Praveen and Ryan Harris, erred in line, particularly against Dhawan, who played through square leg and fine leg for boundaries. While Dhawan looked determined to bat through, it was Ravi Teja's responsibility to maintain the high tempo. Dhawan focussed on the gaps, timing and power enabling him to pierce them with ease, while Ravi Teja went over the top, accomplishing the task he was sent out for, albeit with much fortune.
Streaky as he was, Ravi Teja sent Punjab's frustration levels soaring. He survived a run-out in the 11th over - umpire Asad Rauf didn't call for a replay - and edged the next two balls from McLaren to the third-man boundary. He was dropped by Harris in the next over, and then launched Piyush Chawla for two massive sixes in another over that yielded 20 runs. By the time he was finally caught, he had smashed 60 when he should have been dismissed for a duck.
Having fed on tripe bowled on the pads, Dhawan drove Harris twice for boundaries through the off side, then ceded the floor to Ravi Teja, before taking the lead once again following his dismissal. His intentions were clear right after the second time-out, as he slog-swept Chawla and Bhargav Bhatt. He scarred Harris in his return spell with consecutive fours, including one that almost decapitated the man at the non-striker's end, Cameron White. Dhawan's first six was over cow-corner, and he was unfortunate to miss out on three figures, not being able to farm much of the strike at the end of the innings.
Punjab had changed their strategy in this game, opting to chase, leaving some a little surprised since Adam Gilchrist had scored a blistering ton at the same venue after batting first in their previous game. The pressure of a big target, despite the friendly surface and the small boundaries, was too difficult a challenge. Valthaty perished in the second over, Shaun Marsh smashed JP Duminy for successive boundaries but was caught on the third attempt, edging to short third man. Gilchrist stood in the way and there was hope when he launched Anand Rajan over extra cover and slog-swept Pragyan Ojha into the stands.
Unlike Punjab, though, Deccan caught well and when Gilchrist drove Daniel Christian straight to White in the 11th over, the game was decided. Mishra got into the act: his first wicket, that of McLaren, was a product of an excellent diving catch by Christian in the deep. Mandeep Singh swung and missed to be stumped off the next ball, and Harris edged a googly straight to second slip to complete the hat-trick. The element of suspense Punjab brought to a mostly predictable tournament was over.
Siddhartha Talya is a sub editor at ESPNcricinfo