Bangalore seal seventh place with five-wicket win
The home jinx for Deccan Chargers continued, as Bangalore Royal Challengers powered to a five-wicket win to register their fourth win of the IPL and assure themselves of seventh place. Set a modest target of 166, Bangalore started slowly, but cameos from Misbah-ul-Haq, Rahul Dravid, Cameron White and B Akhil ensured they got home with one over to spare.
Deccan began strongly, but had only themselves to blame for frittering away an outstanding start: Herschelle Gibbs and Adam Gilchrist added 101 in just 11.2 overs, but from there it went rapidly downhill, as they lost nine for 56 in eight overs to slump to 165, after threatening 200 at one stage.
Bangalore's run-chase was hardly smooth, as wickets went down every time they seemed to be wresting the momentum. Kallis, Misbah and Dravid all contributed, but with five overs to go, they still needed 60. While Deccan had botched up with their batting towards the end, Bangalore turned it on, scoring an incredible 65 from the last four.
Dravid got it going in the 16th over with three sublime fours - a couple of drives through the covers and a paddle-sweep. Though he got out next ball, Virat Kohli slapped his first ball over cover as 17 came from that Sanjay Bangar over. White, who had motored to a run-a-ball 16, then attacked P Vijaykumar, creaming a four and a six on the on-side to add 14 more runs from the over. Twenty-nine were now needed from 18, which came down to 16 from 12 as Akhil cleverly paddled two fours to fine leg off Vaas, who ended up going for 36 in his four overs.
Akhil then decided to finish it off quickly off the hapless Chamara Silva - his second and third deliveries were lofted for straight sixes, and the last one disappeared over square leg as Akhil finished on an unbeaten 27 from seven deliveries, outstanding returns for a batsman who had scored just 14 in his previous five innings.
Through the first 15 overs, though, it seemed Bangalore would struggle with the bat again. Kallis played some excellent orthodox strokes through the off side despite being hampered by a hamstring injury sustained while bowling, but awful running between the wickets caused two early mishaps. There was little communication between Kallis, Wasim Jaffer, and Kohli, Kallis' runner. Jaffer's return to the IPL was cut short by a direct hit from mid-off, and soon after he was short of the crease for the second time, this time as the runner for Kallis.
Misbah was promoted to No. 3, and he seemed to be getting into groove, mixing deft glides and flicks with powerful pulls - Venugopal Rao was carted for 14 from three balls in the 11th over, but just as Bangalore seemed to be taking the initiative, Misbah cracked a long hop from Ravi Teja to long-off. Fortunately for Bangalore, they didn't suffer too many setbacks thereafter.
If Bangalore built up momentum after an ordinary start, Deccan's innings was shocking for the manner in which they failed to capitalise on the platform provided by the openers. After choosing to bat, Gilchrist and Gibbs started cautiously, scoring just 22 after four as Anil Kumble - who surprisingly bowled the first over - and Dale Steyn kept it on target. Once they were taken off the attack, the run-fest began. Gilchrist, who scored only six off his first 14 deliveries, changed gears by carving Kallis over mid-on and midwicket for fours, while Gibbs made his South African team-mate suffer in his next over, coming down the pitch and crashing him for a straight six.
Deccan then feasted on Akhil, who had neither the pace nor the accuracy to test the batsmen. Two leg-side deliveries were tucked for fours by Gibbs, while Gilchrist was even more severe in his next over: the first two balls disappeared over long-on and midwicket for sixes, while the fourth and sixth went for fours to round off an over which leaked 20.
The last stroke also brought up the century partnership - Deccan's second hundred stand for the first wicket - and after 11 they were cruising at 101 without loss, but from there the innings lost its way completely. Gibbs was stumped, somewhat untidily, by Shreevats Goswami, Gilchrist fell in the next over, lofting to long-on, and the rest struggled.
Rohit Sharma was hampered by a blow to his right hand from a Vinay Kumar delivery which rose unexpectedly, and though Rao spoilt Kumble's figures by creaming two sixes and a four off his last three deliveries, Deccan lost all momentum towards the end, scoring just 16 off the last three overs.
Halfway through the run-chase, it seemed Deccan might still get away with their sloppy batting, but that was before Akhil and White decided to turn it on.
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo