Symonds helps Deccan to first home win
Deccan Chargers 170 for 7 (Symonds 53, Yuvraj 2-21) beat Kings XI Punjab 164 for 8 (Irfan 60, Vaas 2-27) by six runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The match was hurtling towards a dull climax when Irfan Pathan tried to pull off the improbable with an audacious innings, but eventually Deccan Chargers prevailed and sealed their first win against Kings XI Punjab in IPL history. Set 171 to win, Punjab were dawdling along at 104 for 7 in the 17th over when Irfan exploded to create some excitement.
Irfan hit two sixes and two fours in that 17th over bowled by an errant RP Singh, and suddenly the equation read 46 from 18 balls. RP returned in the 19th over to give away 14 runs, which included a six over long-on and a cover-driven four from Irfan, and the equation came to 19 from the final over. Jaskaran Singh, who was unused until then, pleaded with Adam Gilchrist that he be given a bowl and he struck with his first ball, getting Irfan to hole out to deep midwicket. Game over.
Irfan might have succeeded in reducing the margin, but it couldn't mask an otherwise lacklustre performance from Punjab. They are yet to click together as a unit in this IPL, and nothing changed tonight. Their bowling was good in the first game, their batting better in the second, and tonight it was only the bowlers who turned up. All Deccan had to do today to register their first home win was to ensure they reached a competitive total, and they managed it courtesy a fiery cameo from Gilchrist and a responsible hand from Andrew Symonds.
When Deccan batted, it was as if there were two games out there: Deccan against pace and Deccan against spin. They looted runs against the seamers and struggled against the spinners to reach a competitive score.
Whenever Deccan required some quick runs to get some momentum going, Sreesanth seemed ready to gift them some easy runs. His first largesse came in the second over when he went for 24 runs with Adam Gilchrist plundering two fours and two sixes. A stunning six hit on the up to straight boundary was the highlight.
Gilchrist's 17-minute manic knock charged Deccan to 43 in 3 overs. Although they lost VVS Laxman almost immediately - he was forced to retire hurt after being hit on his wrist by a wayward throw from Shalabh Srivastava - Gilchrist's effort allowed them to reach 84 for 1 in nine overs. This is where Sreesanth entered the picture to give his second offering to Deccan. This time around he leaked 16 runs, with Symonds hitting a typically muscled six over long-on, and two fours.
At this point things could have gone horribly wrong for Punjab, but Yuvraj Singh slipped in a tidy spell that read 4-0-21-2 to peg back Deccan. It was the typical bag of tricks from him - variation in pace and the alteration in trajectory - but it was enough to slow down proceedings on this slow track. In the 11th over, he removed Herschelle Gibbs with an arm-ball and saw a slow-off-the-blocks Rohit Sharma run himself out. Bipul Sharma and Piyush Chawla slipped in a couple of relatively quiet overs, and when Yuvraj induced Symonds to hole out to long-on, Deccan had reached 144 for 5 in 17 overs.
If Gilchrist's was an adrenalin-charged innings, Symonds', barring that explosion against Sreesanth, was more measured. He played the spinners with relative caution, often checking his drives, and making sure he didn't throw his wicket away.
Punjab didn't find either a Gilchrist or a Symonds when they chased. Only Ravi Bopara offered some fight with a 32-ball 38, but the rest succumbed meekly. The seniors were the main culprits - none of Kumar Sangakkara, Yuvraj and Mahela Jayawardene could get going. Chaminda Vaas took care of Sangakkara with a slower one and induced Yuvraj to slice an intended big drive to cover. When Symonds bowled Jayawardene, who went for a fatal paddle sweep, the game was all but over. Or so one thought. Irfan threatened to pull off an improbable heist but it proved too much for him in the end.
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo