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Sambit steals the crown

Kumble, Gibbs and Symonds win it for Cricinfo's editor

Updated at 2.05am

Andrew Symonds eyes cow corner, Delhi Daredevils v Deccan Chargers, IPL, 1st semi-final, Centurion, May 22, 2009
Symonds was in the top two teams, but fetched Sambit 250 points as trump © Associated Press
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In a come-from-behind to rival that of Deccan Chargers on finals day, Sambit Bal has taken the Star Wars title for the season from Ian Chappell, who led for much of the tournament. It was a resounding victory - Sambit pipped Ian to the post by a comfortable margin of 284 points.

It was a day when nothing went right for Ian. His trump, Adam Gilchrist, failed to repeat his semi-final heroics and went for a duck. And this played a key role in Ian's defeat. His other picks who weren't in Sambit's team, Virat Kohli and Manish Pandey - Man of the Match in the last two games Bangalore played - netted just 41 points between them. On the other hand, Sambit seemed to have developed the Midas touch - all his picks fired. He brought in Herschelle Gibbs for the final, who fetched him 92; Andrew Symonds, his trump, netted a whopping 250; and the masterstroke was Anil Kumble, who sealed the deal with 211.

Sambit is understandably chuffed with his victory. "It turned out to be the perfect finish for me. It started with a duck for Gilchrist, who was Ian's trump. It helped that the bowler was Kumble, who was not in Ian's team. Andrew Symonds was my trump and he gave me some vital points. I had Gibbs too, and Ian didn't. And Kumble capped it off with four wickets.

"It's been quite a fight, and I'll allow myself to enjoy the win. And why not? This is the only game I'll ever beat Ian Chappell at."

Meanwhile Ian was gracious in defeat. "Congratulations to Sambit. He was like a terrier - I still have the teeth marks in my trousers. He was prepared to gamble in the final match and it paid handsome dividends. I've really enjoyed the experience of Star Wars and look forward to another contest at a later date."

Sanjay Manjrekar finishes at No. 3 with 9834 and David Lloyd at No. 4 with 7228.

Chappell still on top

Sixty-eight points ahead with one game to go

Posted at 12.05pm

Matthew Hayden made a 38-ball 60, Chennai Super Kings v Royal Challengers Bangalore, IPL, Durban, May 14, 2009
A rare off day for Hayden cost the fantasy leaguers © Associated Press
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Going into Sunday's final it's Ian Chappell at No. 1 leading Sambit Bal by a slender margin of 68 points.

Both Ian and Sambit went in with the same trump - Matthew Hayden, who had a rare off day, fetching just 68 points, one of his lowest hauls as trump. L Balaji (0) and Suresh Raina (22) were the other players in common. Ian had Virat Kohli and Shadab Jakati, who gave him 53, while Sambit had Muttiah Muralitharan and Anil Kumble who accounted for 45 between them, giving Ian an advantage of eight points.

For today's game Ian and Sambit have three players in common, so far - Adam Gilchrist, Rohit Sharma and Andrew Symonds. In addition, Ian has Kohli and Sambit has Kumble. And both Ian and Sambit have just one transfer left. How they use that transfer, and their choice of trump, could well decide the final result.

"It's a game of cat and mouse now, with only a transfer left," Ian had said earlier. "The competition could turn on the choice of a trump and it might take a gamble to win the prize." His words could well turn out to be true.

Past 10,000, Chappell still leads

Sehwag gets Sambit closer to number one

Posted at 11.30 am

Virender Sehwag goes on the offensive, Delhi Daredevils v Mumbai Indians, IPL, 55th match, Centurion, May 21, 2009
Sehwag lost the semi but earned Sambit Bal 98 fantasy points © Associated Press
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The cat-and-mouse game continues at the top - it's still Ian Chappell at No. 1, though his lead over Sambit Bal is now just 60 points, down 13 points from yesterday.

As has been proved in the final stages of the tournament, once again it was a choice of trumps that made the difference. While Ian went with AB de Villiers, who gave him 80 points; Sambit decided to punt on Virender Sehwag, who may have been the losing captain but still fetched Sambit 98 points, allowing him to whittle away at Ian's lead. The rest of the picks were common for both Sambit and Ian, the only exception being Rajat Bhatia, who fetched Sambit an additional four points.

Meanwhile it was Adam Gilchrist who netted the big points on Friday - 270. Incidentally, both Sambit and Ian started the day with Gilchrist as trump, but changed their minds during the course of the day.

Wonder who will be in pole position going into the final tomorrow.

Chappell reclaims the throne

Symonds and Kohli make a difference

Posted at 12 noon

Andrew Symonds launches one into the stands, Deccan Chargers v Delhi Daredevils, IPL, Durban, May 13, 2009
Symonds fetched Ian Chappell 65 points © Associated Press
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The see-saw battle at the top continues. After losing the top spot to Sambit Bal for a day, Ian Chappell has reclaimed it after the last day of round-robin matches.

Ian and Sambit both played it safe, going in for similar trumps for the double header. While AB de Villiers (42) and Adam Gilchrist (60) didn't burn up the charts with their performances, it was the performance of the other players not common to both sides who made the difference. While Rajat Bhatia and Jacques Kallis fetched Sambit just 32 points, Ian had Andrew Symonds (65) and Virat Kohli (38), and had persisted with Sachin Tendulkar (56); the three accumulated 159 between them, and helped edge Ian into the lead. He is now ahead of Sambit by 73 points.

Meanwhile Sanjay Manjrekar, who had Virender Sehwag as trump for the first game, earned 288 points from him, as Sehwag finally struck form. He is at No. 3 with 8705, and David Lloyd brings up the rear with 6847.

As of now, Ian and Sambit have largely common picks (and a common trump) for the first-semi final between Deccan Chargers and Delhi Daredevils. It will be interesting to see if either of them punts, changing his trump before the game starts. Watch this space for more.

The lead changes hands

Sambit edges ahead, courtesy Raina

Updated at 11.30am

Team-mates rush in to congratulate Suresh Raina, Chennai Super Kings v Kings XI Punjab, IPL, 54th match, Durban, May 20, 2009
Raina: kingmaker © Associated Press
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Suresh Raina has done it for Sambit Bal, who moves into pole position ahead of Ian Chappell after eight days of relentless pursuit.

It was the no-show by Ian's trump Matthew Hayden that cost him dearly. Sambit on the other hand, decided to go with Yuvraj Singh as trump, who fetched him 72 points.

But the player who made the difference for Sambit was Raina. An all-round performance from him meant that he netted a crucial 90 for Sambit, allowing him to slip ahead of Ian by 53 points.

"It's a reward for perseverance," Sambit says. "Raina has been the key to my campaign. He was only one who could have got me ahead of Ian, because the rest of our teams are more or less the same.

"But I am reading too much in to it. It's still a very close game and now it's it's down to choosing the right trump."

We're into the final few games of the tournament and it will be interesting to see what twists and turns lie ahead, not only on the field but in the Star Wars league as well.

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League Leaderboard
Rank Team Name Celebrity pts
1 Trick20 Sambit Bal 10857
2 godfathers Ian Chappell 10573
3 Sanjays XI Sanjay Manjrekar 9834
4 the circus David Lloyd 7228
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