Deccan succumb to Mandeep, Hussey
Kings XI Punjab 170 for 5 (Mandeep 75) beat Deccan Chargers 145 for 8 (Hussey 2-2, Praveen 2-15, Awana 2-27) by 25 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Deccan Chargers dropped only one sitter today. Their fielding did not come apart as it has earlier this season. Mandeep Singh did cart their bowling around in a dominating innings. But then, in the middle of their chase, they lost Cameron White and Daniel Harris in the space of four balls. To David Hussey. Four deliveries later, they lost Kumar Sangakkara. Game over.
The result, and Rajasthan Royals' win over Pune Warriors earlier today, opened up a five-way race for two playoff spots, with Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Daredevils appearing set to take the first two spots.
Chargers had kept pace with the asking-rate for eight overs. Parvinder Awana and Azhar Mahmood then got in a tight over each. With the spinners having been taken for runs, and the fast bowlers pulling things back, few would have expected Hussey to come on with his part-time quick offbreaks in the 11th over. He did, and Harris, on 30, drove his first delivery off a thick edge straight to point. As if one pleasant surprise wasn't enough, a bigger gift was in store for Kings XI. Hussey gave rare flight to his fourth ball, White went after it, and Shaun Marsh accepted the steepler at deep midwicket.
Double whammy turned into triple tragedy for Chargers when Sangakkara edged a peach of an away-moving Praveen Kumar delivery for the wicketkeeper Nitin Saini to take a reflex one-handed catch wide to his left. A competitive 70 for 2 had sunk to 74 for 5, and Chargers had as much hope left of winning the game as they have of making the playoffs.
Mandeep, Kings XI's highest run-getter this season, had earlier continued his good form, adding powerful strokes to his solidity to take his side well over the 150-160 mark which Sangakkara said was a par score. Mandeep, with a career Twenty20 strike-rate of barely 120, batted a couple of gears higher today, his 75 coming off 48 deliveries. David Miller provided the late boost, hammering an unbeaten 28 off 18.
Mandeep, who had been consistent this season without dominating, never looked back after taking Veer Pratap Singh for 18 in the second over. He pulled, cut and lofted over extra cover without any desperation. Though he lacked enough support, Mandeep never allowed the innings to flag.
Ashish Reddy could have had Mandeep, on 30 then, off the first ball he bowled, but could not get to a tough chance which just eluded his outstretched left hand. Mandeep deposited the last ball of that Reddy over, the seventh, over long-on.
Veer Pratap, who was to go for 45 in four overs, managed to get Hussey mishitting to long-off in the 12th over. Mandeep responded by pulling Amit Mishra for consecutive fours in the next over.
Reddy finally bowled Mandeep in the 16th over as the batsman missed a slog. He then ran-out the dangerous Azhar Mahmood for 14 with sharp fielding at point, but became too predictable with his slower deliveries, allowing Miller to take 13 off the final over.
Almost predictably, Chargers' woeful catching made another appearance, though late, when White put down Miller at long-off last ball of the 19th over. But for once, Chargers had neither their fielding nor their catching to blame for their 16th loss in 17 games at their home ground in Hyderabad.
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo