Deccan snatch title in tense finish
Deccan Chargers invoked the bull in their emblem to successfully defend a modest total, beat Royal Challengers Bangalore and win a tournament they had ended up last in the previous season. They bowled with fire, fielded aggressively and sledged and hustled - almost literally - to victory in a final that twisted and turned and lived up to the occasion.
The last of those turning points was the 15th over, bowled by Andrew Symonds, who matched his verbal skills from earlier in the night with the wickets of Ross Taylor and Virat Kohli off back-to-back deliveries. Bangalore were 99 for 6 when the over started, and Taylor had looked dangerous during his 20-ball 27. That Symonds over, though, was symbolic of the night: every time a batsman got away from the bowling, a breakthrough pulled the batting side back.
Defending a total three less than what Bangalore chased easily in the semi-final, Deccan came out pumped, their energy reflecting in their behaviour. Symonds shadowed the latest tyro, Manish Pandey, all the way from the dugout to the crease. Pandey was a marked man during his innings. Symonds followed him wherever he went, giving him lip. Ryan Harris matched the aggression with the ball, clocking 145kmph constantly in the first over, a maiden.
Jacques Kallis looked to take the pressure off his 19-year-old partner. In Harris' next over Kallis took two boundaries to get the chase going. RP Singh brought the balance back when Kallis pulled onto his stumps but out came Roelof van der Merwe, who used adrenalin to push Bangalore further towards the target.
van der Merwe got a mouthful from Symonds and Harris, but he responded by hitting two sixes off one Harris over. Despite the maiden, Harris had gone for 23 in three overs. Even after Pragyan Ojha got Pandey with the first ball he bowled, van der Merwe's pyrotechnics kept Deccan at a distance.
One ball summed up the adrenalin rush van der Merwe was feeling. Beaten in the flight by Ojha he managed an edge which saved him from being stumped but he also dropped his bat. He picked his bat up as he ran the first run, and turned a two into a three, saving himself from the run-out by sprinting down the middle of the pitch and diving into the stumps at the non-striker's end.
One six later the adrenalin got the better of van der Merwe as he jumped out to Ojha and was stumped. The tension was palpable, and it sort of got to a senior pro like Rahul Dravid too. As Bangalore targeted Harmeet Singh, Dravid missed a scoop and was bowled. Bangalore still held the edge, though, with Taylor and Mark Boucher in.
Taylor looked like taking Bangalore home coolly, hitting three fours and a six, until Symonds got him on the pull, with a touch of extra bounce. Adam Gilchrist pulled off a smart stumping down the leg side next ball, and it was all down to Boucher now.
Gilchrist tried to get through Harmeet's last over, during which the youngster claimed Boucher on the cut. The bowling allocation was planned perfectly: RP had two left, and Ojha and Harris one each. Bangalore, with two wickets in hand, needed 27 from the last two overs, and 15 from the last, but RP Singh and Ryan Harris kept their cool despite a six from Robin Uthappa.
Amid the tension of the second innings one felt for Anil Kumble, who spent the most of the last over at the non-striker's end and saw his dream crash. Earlier Kumble had celebrated like a teenager but bowled like the veteran champion he is, and kept Deccan down to a manageable target.
He bowled the first over of the match, took Gilchrist out, then came back in the ninth to dismiss Symonds. That wicket was crucial because Symonds had been dropped on 5 by Dravid, and was reminding Bangalore eerily of the line his batting partner Herschelle Gibbs was apocryphally told during the 1999 World Cup. Kumble again came on in the 17th over to break a dangerous 52-run partnership between Rohit Sharma and Gibbs, when the two had taken Deccan to 110 for 3.
Towards the end Gibbs played a bizarre little innings. He had been inconspicuous in his struggle to score runs earlier, and didn't make much effort to farm the strike in the end. He faced only six balls in the last three overs, and kept taking twos in the last over to hand the strike over to Harris. He had batted the whole 20 overs for less than 60, much like Sachin Tendulkar, in more trying conditions, had in the first match of the tournament. Somehow they both ended up winning.
Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo