Symonds and Suman keep Deccan alive
It was just another day at the office for Deccan Chargers until T Suman became their first Indian domestic cricketer to perform, guiding an improbable chase and keeping his team alive in the tournament. Good start with the ball, falling apart at the end - it was a familiar script until Suman wrote new lines, scoring 78 off 57 from No 3. Andrew Symonds, who had conceded 23 in the 17th over, facilitated a 21-run 17th over during the chase en route to 53 off 24 balls, as Deccan went about scoring more than 100 in the last 10 overs.
Deccan bowled well to have Royal Challengers Bangalore at 68 for 4 in the 11th over, but seemed to have forgotten how to bowl when they went for 92 runs in the last six. Once again, during the chase, Adam Gilchrist scored a quick thirty but failed to convert it into anything substantial.
Suman, however, had been promoted to No. 3 and Deccan had reached the 11th over by the time Gilchrist's 19-ball 32 ended. Gilchrist didn't get much strike, and Suman had put his share to good use, reaching 41 off 34. It wasn't the cleanest innings: stylish hits off length balls were offset by streaky boundaries off inside edges.
In the next over Rohit Sharma fell too, leaving Deccan with 90 to get off 50 balls. The turnaround started with a thick edge from Symonds, but he followed with a four off a yorker next ball. Suman followed suit, hitting Anil Kumble for a six to bring up his fifty in the next over, and 62 off 33 didn't read much worse than from where they started.
The streaky shots from Suman had disappeared by then, and he continued with a six off Vinay Kumar in the 16th over, but the symbolic moment was yet to come. Symonds had to make good for his bowling effort, and make good he did by thumping Praveen Kumar. An edge flew over the keeper, a slower ball was deposited over midwicket, and a yorker-gone-wrong hit into the sight screen. Forty-nine from 24 balls had become 28 off 18, and from there it was only a matter of avoiding the famous Deccan choke.
Suman took the lead, hitting Dale Steyn for four after he seemed to have found a good yorker rhythm. Symonds upset Kallis' rhythm when he missed the yorker by about a foot, and finished the game by hitting Vinay for a six and a four off the first two balls of the last over.
It should never have been that big a chase for Deccan. They had Bangalore struggling, but let them double their 14-over score, vindicating their reputation as the worst bowling side at the death, taking their tournament economy-rate in last six overs to 11.44 an over. Next-worst is 9.89.
Despite little support from Harmeet Singh, RP Singh and Mitchell Marsh, Ryan Harris had managed to keep Bangalore down to 46 for 1 at the end of the Powerplay. Harris went for just five in two of those overs. Ojha and Symonds followed Harris' good work with three wickets in three overs, including the massive ones of Robin Uthappa and Ross Taylor.
In the last six overs, though, Jacques Kallis and Virat Kohli went berserk in the absence of yorkers and abundance of length balls and hit six sixes and eight fours in the last six overs, as opposed to two sixes and seven fours in the first 14. Kallis reiterated his importance in the line-up with his sixth fifty of the tournament, and Kohli showed he could dabble in the power-hitting business too, going from 12 off 18 to 58 off 35. One of his sixes hit the roof at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, but by the end of the night their semi-final prospects - almost a certainty before the match started - had taken a hit.
Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo