T&T top group, Deccan crash out
They've tried nine times but Deccan Chargers have not won in Hyderabad yet. This latest defeat, by a three-run margin to Trinidad & Tobago, had serious consequences - it made the 2009 champions the only IPL team to crash out in the first round of the Champions League after losing both Group A matches. T&T, on the other hand, are unexpected toppers and will carry forward two points to the second round from beating fellow qualifiers Somerset.
Neither team took decisive control of the game at any stage: both outfits were haphazard but T&T lifted at pivotal moments to prevail in a tense finish. Their batsmen entertained, playing a shot a minute, but didn't stay long enough to cause significant damage - scoring only 149 on a terrific batting surface. Their bowlers took early wickets but wilted under Adam Gilchrist's flashing bat and, when they fought back, Venugopal Rao threatened to snatch victory from them. With only eight runs to defend in the final over, Daren Ganga gave Dwayne Bravo the responsibility and T&T's most experienced player delivered.
The whole match had a feeling of unpredictability to it; performances were neither clinical nor efficient. Deccan aided T&T's start by bowling poor lines and conceding an inexcusable number of extras. The batsmen attacked, disregarding the quality of deliveries. Edges flew for fours, balls were scooped into helmets, overthrows went to the boundary and dropped catches resulted in wickets. There was a freaky lbw, a fluke stumping and a batsman was struck on the neck by a bouncer. In the midst of the chaos, William Perkins top-scored with 38, Keiron Pollard blasted 31 off 14 balls, and fiery Fidel Edwards finished with 3 for 32.
Edwards was charged up for this contest and not merely because he was a Barbadian playing against local rivals; he had been barred against Somerset for bowling two beamers. He had words for T&T's openers and then sent down a fast, if not always well-directed, first over. Perkins tried to flick one of those speedy deliveries but the leading edge bounced just once before going over the point boundary. The first delivery Edwards aimed at middle stump brought him a wicket - Lendl Simmons played across and was lbw.
RP Singh then bowled a shocker. He had drifted down leg often in his first over and bowled a hat-trick of front-foot no-balls in his second. Darren Bravo missed the first two free-hits but pulled the third over midwicket for four. RP then delivered a wide outside off stump but the worst was yet to come. An overthrow off the last ball cost Deccan five leg byes and Gilchrist's disgust was plain to see.
T&T raced to 49 for 1 after five overs and Gilchrist brought a fourth bowler into the attack. Darren Bravo welcomed T Suman with a leg-glanced boundary but then smacked one straight back to him. A ball later Andrew Symonds' direct hit caught Daren Ganga short at the bowler's end. Perkins, though, batted without restraint, pulling Pragyan Ojha to the midwicket fence, lofting Symonds over cover, and playing a scoop on to the grill of his helmet, before moving across his stumps and falling lbw to Edwards.
They were 92 for 4 after 13 - the run-rate was alright but the wickets weren't - when Dwayne Bravo cut hard to Suman at point. The catch was spilled but Suman recovered and ran out Bravo. The dismissal brought Pollard into play and he tore into the spinners. Ojha disappeared to the long-off and midwicket boundaries and Suman watched two full balls sail over his head. Edwards suffered too - Pollard pulling him for a flat six - before recovering to uproot the leg stump.
T&T's innings lost steam thereafter. Ramdin had fallen to a lucky stumping off Symonds, when Gilchrist failed to collect, but the ball bounced off his gloves on to the stumps. The tailenders could not cope with the death bowling - Dave Mohammed took an RP Singh bouncer on his neck - and they settled for 149.
Determined to end the home-ground jinx, Gilchrist kick-started the chase with an uppercut for six and an edge for four to take 11 off the first over. T&T fought back by striking regularly and at 30 for 3, with Symonds run out, Deccan's chase was coming apart. Their captain, however, continued to charge - driving, hooking and playing his devastating pick-up shot over midwicket with success. Gilchrist raced to 50 off 31 balls and Ganga, realising his spinners were having little effect on this pitch, turned to Lendl Simmons. He struck immediately when Gilchrist pulled to deep midwicket and Pollard ran to his left to intercept the speeding ball.
Gilchrist's dismissal was followed by Rohit Sharma's and, with 64 needed off 47, T&T were back on top. Rao redressed the balance by clearing the straight boundary twice and hitting fours whenever the pressure started to mount. Deccan needed only 13 off 13 balls when Rao edged Rampaul to Denesh Ramdin. The match once again swung T&T's way, for the final time, and Bravo's final over ended Deccan's run in the tournament.
George Binoy is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo