Steyn, Duminy help Deccan knock out RCB
Deccan Chargers 132 for 7 (Duminy 74, Vinay 3-22) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 123 for 9 (Kohli 42, Steyn 3-8, Ashish Reddy 3-25) by 9 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Royal Challengers Bangalore imploded in their most crucial match of the season and failed to qualify for the playoffs after choking in a low-scoring chase. Their defeat in Hyderabad allowed Chennai Super Kings to hang on to fourth spot at the end of the league stage.
Deccan Chargers scratched to 132 on a slow pitch, but their bowlers and fielders lifted the gloom of their campaign with a performance that brought the tournament's most intimidating batting line-up to its knees. Chargers, who spent most of the season languishing at the bottom, left Pune Warriors holding the wooden spoon and moved to eighth spot.
The game was Royal Challengers' to lose. A target of 133 should not have been too daunting for their top heavy batting line-up. The chase had several turning points - Chris Gayle's dismissal, Dale Steyn's first three overs and Virat Kohli's rush of blood, to name a few. Steyn was unplayable with figures of 4-0-8-3, but crucially, he found support from the slower bowlers. Amit Mishra took two in an over to set Royal Challengers back and Ashish Reddy frustrated the batsmen with slower balls in the final stages.
Gayle has largely determined Royal Challengers' fortunes this season, by combining big hits with longevity at the crease. He has, on occasion, started sedately before embarking on a boundary barrage. Today Gayle batted as though he was determined to finish in ten overs, pounding 24 in Manpreet Gony's first over, the second of the innings.
In the third, Gayle had to face Steyn, bowling at serious pace. After ducking under a short ball aimed at his head, Gayle tried to make room by moving towards leg and bottom edged another fast short ball on to his stumps. Steyn then had Tillakaratne Dilshan lbw in his next over, and Royal Challengers were 40 for 2 when Saurabh Tiwary retired hurt after straining a hamstring in the sixth.
An overthrow that cost six runs was the only major blip on an unusually good day in the field for Chargers. Duminy's leaping catch at short cover to get rid of AB de Villiers was an example of their improvement. The tension was palpable in the Royal Challengers camp as de Villiers walked back, because their tail began at No.7.
Tiwary returned in the tenth over after Mishra's double-strike. He and Kohli kept Royal Challengers in the hunt during their brisk stand of 46, which came at 7.45 runs an over. The plan seemed to be to knock off as many as possible before Steyn returned for his final over. Kohli swung Ashish Reddy over long-on but a repeat of that shot the following ball found the fielder. A furious Kohli swung his bat at thin air in frustration.
Steyn returned to knock down Zaheer Khan's middle stump to round off another dream spell. The game was all but sealed for Chargers as the asking rate proved too demanding for Royal Challengers' tail. Kohli sat at the dug out with his pads on, hands on his face, wondering what could have been.
Besides Steyn, Chargers had another South African to thank - JP Duminy. The two-paced pitch produced attritional cricket and Chargers struggled to score at six an over. Duminy did his best to compensate for the failures of his other overseas colleagues with a late surge, pounding five sixes in an aggressive half-century.
Only two boundaries were scored in the Powerplay overs, which produced just 23 runs. By the end of the tenth over, the score was an underwhelming 47 for 3. Duminy, who began watchfully, hit the first of his five sixes when he heaved R Vinay Kumar over long-on in the 16th over. He hit three more in a single over from Muttiah Muralitharan, which cost 20. His knock was valuable in getting Chargers to a middling total on a slow pitch. It turned out to be enough.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo