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Sitter, Sunny, semis

A Deccan fan grits his teeth at RP's dropped catch and Gibbs' failure to get a big one but is confident they'll make it to the final

John van der Westhuizen
Manish Pandey guides it past gully, Royal Challengers Bangalore v Deccan Chargers, IPL, 56th match, Centurion, May 21, 2009

The kid who could: Manish Pandey was the main event  •  Associated Press

Team supported
I have supported the Deccan Chargers since the IPL started. I felt that with Herschelle Gibbs, Adam Gilchrist, Andrew Symonds and Shahid Afridi in their ranks, anything under 400 was gettable. I was proved very, very wrong and was ridiculed for 12 months. This year things are very different and (despite this latest loss), I still fancy Deccan to lift the trophy.
Key performer
Manish Pandey - The 19-year-old Indian right-hander emerged from Virat Kohli's shadow to post the highest ever score by an Indian in the IPL - a massive 114 not out off 73 balls, including flicks, drives and paddles. He was given a life early on when RP Singh let a sitter through the fingers but made his own luck from there.
One thing I'd have changed about the match
It would have been nice if either one of these teams really needed the result. As things stood, both teams were safely through to the semi-finals and a loss for either would not have affected their tournament ambitions. I think a bit of needle with a loser-bows-out scenario would have been ideal. Having said that, we did still get a good game.
Key face-off
Not a direct face-off as such but each team had a proven middle-order boundary hitter in Ross Taylor and Rohit Sharma respectively. I was looking forward to either getting stuck into opposition bowlers and inflicting a few maximums, but it was not to be, as they both fell cheaply and were upstaged by opening batsmen in their teams.
To be honest, I think even celebrities are suffering from IPL fatigue now. Their numbers have dwindled substantially. Apart from the usual faces associated with each team there was nothing new on show. For me a chance meeting and photo-op with Sunny Gavaskar made up for the absence of a proliferation of attention-seeking actresses and b-grade celebrities.
Wow moment
RP Singh's dropped catch was an absolute sitter - Bangalore fans loved it - and it ultimately cost Deccan the game. High-pressure moments often swing big games and so it proved: the batsman went on to add 112 runs to his team's score and duly take Man-of-the-Match honours.
Cheerleader factor
A fantastic showing by both sets. Bangalore's Mischief Gals probably showed a dash more energy, and for all we know, their team drew strength from this to post the win.
Crowd meter
Very close to a full house at Supersport Park, one of the best grounds and playing surfaces in the competition. The grass banks were choc-a-bloc, and though there were a few open seats in the main grandstand, with the usual fireworks, music and lights, one could not be blamed for thinking it was indeed a full stadium.
This time the cricket entertained. A local band was employed, as is normally the case, but their cover versions fell flat. The Indian music coming through the PA system kept the spectators pumped up. The real artists were Pandey and Gibbs.
Marks out of 10
I would rate it as 8.5 out of 10, with points being deducted for lack of consequences on the day for the losing team. Still, a very entertaining game, with two batsmen getting going nicely. Just a pity Gibbs couldn't follow through; he found no support at all from his team-mates, but it must be said that Kumble marshalled the bowlers superbly to set up a win for Bangalore.
Bring on the semis. With Deccan blowing hot and cold throughout the tournament, I think Delhi will be apprehensive about today's semi. Last time out, Deccan had them surrounded only to demonstrate the most dramatic collapse IPL has ever seen, and lose the game. Don't expect any favours from the Chargers this time round, though. And in the other semi? Let's just say that a Deccan-Bangalore final is not out of the question in my opinion - and this time round Herschelle will follow through and see the mighty Chargers home.
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John van der Westhuizen is a Markets and Sales Specialist at a global media and information support company. He is also a die-hard cricket fan, a slow-medium seam bowler past his prime, father to the future of South African cricket, Luke van der Westhuizen, currently three years old, and working on a straight-arm doosra. You can read his blog here.