Dominant Deccan thrash Rajasthan
Smart team changes by the Deccan Chargers and a spineless batting display by the Rajasthan Royals contributed to a mismatch in Kimberley. Deccan dropped two under-performing overseas players but their replacements - Dwayne Smith and Chaminda Vaas - contributed significantly in shaping a comprehensive 53-run win. Smith slammed 47 to help Deccan surge to a competitive total while Vaas took two early wickets before Rajasthan's middle order imploded.
Rajasthan were in the game for the first 15 overs. Then Smith walked in and, first, negated the effect of the spinners, who till had the batsmen on a tight leash. He smashed four sixes in his 32-ball 47 and pushed Deccan to a score that was sure to test an unpredictable opposition. The chase lacked fight and the loss cost Rajasthan their No.3 spot.
Rajasthan's slide began in the second over of their chase, when Graeme Smith was trapped lbw by Chaminda Vaas. Replays showed the ball hitting Smith high above the knee roll but it evened out for both teams as Adam Gilchrist was also given out in doubtful circumstances.
While Smith had the right to blame fate for his dismissal, Lee Carseldine had only himself to blame for his departure. Distracted by an lbw appeal off Vaas, he accidentally strolled out of his crease and failed to notice that Gilchrist was in possession of the ball during the appeal to effect the stumping.
Naman Ojha hit two fours before he misjudged a single towards point. Dropping the ball towards the fielder, he set off for the run but Ravi Teja's arm was too quick for him as he threw down the stumps with a direct hit.
Swapnil Asnodkar resisted at the other end and tried to break free by making a lot of room to loft inside out. Rajasthan needed somebody to support Asnodkar and play a role similar to Smith's but their most valuable player in the middle order, Yusuf Pathan, let them down. He slapped Pragyan Ojha straight to long-off and at 74 for 4 in the 12th over, the wheels had effectively come off.
Rohit Sharma picked up three wickets with his offspin, by which time Rajasthan had run out of resources and ideas to script a twist in the tale.
In a tournament dominated by spinners, Rajasthan's spin duo of Yusuf and Ravindra Jadeja had their share of success early on. Yusuf took 3 for 34 while his partner Jadeja took 2 for 26 by cleverly varying his pace. Jadeja struck with two wickets on either side of the strategy break to peg Deccan back. He drew Rohit forward with a flighted delivery and had him stumped and in his following over, flattened Symonds' legstump with a quicker delivery. Symonds had earlier threatened to push on to his second consecutive fifty when he took on his old IPL rival Warne, pulling the bowler over midwicket before mowing him high over long-on.
They controlled the scoring before Smith cut loose. Smith got off to a quiet start by his standards, scoring 14 off 19 balls before opening out. He lofted Jadeja over long-on, clubbed Pathan over square leg and flicked Trivedi delightfully over deep midwicket without much of a follow through. Warne gambled by bringing himself on in the 19th over and he too suffered at the hands of Smith as he swung him over long-on.
Smith departed in the final over for 47 and thanks to his big hits, Deccan managed 69 off the last six overs and negated the impact the spinners had made earlier. He came in as a replacement for the out-of-form Herschelle Gibbs and it proved to be a masterstroke.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo