In a yawn-inducing crawl, Deccan Chargers meandered to 82, the lowest total of the season, and Royal Challengers Bangalore knocked it off without much fuss to book their spot in the next Champions League.
Not many people bothered to turn up for the game, nine Deccan batsmen scored less than five runs and a dull, almost anaesthetic, atmosphere prevailed through their innings. Adam Gilchrist's early dismissal set the tone for the innings: It was a slow gentle full toss from Anil Kumble and while it was in its trajectory you felt it was going to be smashed for a six but Gilchrist contrived to hit it to deep backward square-leg where Jacques Kallis took a neat catch.
It was that kind of a dull and dreary night. Perhaps the loss in semi-final had sapped Deccan, perhaps it was just one of those nights when nothing went right for them and it made for almost painful watching experience.
Bangalore ticked off all the boxes that were required of them: Kumble showed his intent by opening against Gilchrist, Praveen Kumar mixed his cutters with slower ones in a tight spell, and Dale Steyn, though not as pacy as he has been in this tournament so far, was accurate to keep the batsmen in check. Monish Mishra played all around a straight delivery from Praveen to be trapped in front and Rohit Sharma threw his wicket away with a lame pull shot to mid-on.
Much depended on Andrew Symonds at that stage and he even got a reprieve when Steyn ran in too much at fine-leg to drop a catch but he fell on the very next delivery. He backed away to try force Steyn through the off side but edged it behind to the keeper to leave Deccan struggling at 27 for 4 in 6.1 overs. And it soon turned to 35 for 5 when a clueless Dwayne Smith had his Richard Blakey moment against Kumble: It was a slider that came in from just outside off but Smith stabbed at thin air and looked slightly sheepish when he lost his off stump.
It was only due to Anirudh Singh, one of many changes in the Deccan set-up for this game, that Deccan avoided complete embarrassment. He probably would pick a sliced square-drive over backward point off Steyn as his top shot though a thumping drive over covers off a slower one from the same bowler too caught the eye. There was even a six against Nayan Doshi, who made an impressive IPL debut, but Anirudh mainly dealt in nudged singles. When he fell in the 16th over, bowled by Kallis, Deccan lost their only hope of reaching 100.
Rahul Dravid and Kallis ensured Bangalore got off to a solid start and once they achieved it, it was always going be a just a stroll in the park for them. Though Kallis fell in the eight over, Dravid guided Bangalore through in the company of Kevin Pietersen.
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo