Royal Challengers Bangalore faltered at the final hurdle, losing to Deccan Chargers by nine runs in Hyderabad on Sunday to leave them stranded on fifth and out of the IPL playoffs. Deccan, meanwhile, proved to be the saviours for Chennai Super Kings, winning their final two games against Rajasthan Royals and then Bangalore to help the defending champions sneak through by virtue of a better net run-rate.
Batting has been Bangalore’s strength throughout this tournament, but it failed them when it mattered the most. Instead it was an aggressive knock from JP Duminy that decided the match as he helped his side set a modest target of 133, which the bowlers, inspired by an unplayable Dale Steyn, managed to defend. In fact, Steyn, Amit Mishra and Ashish Reddy picked up key wickets at crucial moments, and Bangalore eventually managed only 123 for 9.
Still, it looked as if the chase would be an easy one for Bangalore when the in-form Chris Gayle (27) hammered Manpreet Gony for 24 runs in the second over. But Steyn provided the first turning point soon after, bowling a fiery bouncer to Gayle that evidently rattled the West Indian, because he was gone the next delivery, dragging the ball back on to his stumps trying to hit him over the park. Steyn then dismissed Tillakaratne Dilshan lbw in his next over, and when Saurabh Tiwary retired hurt in the sixth with a hamstring injury, Bangalore knew they had a game on their hands.
Tiwary had to return in the 10th over though, after Amit Mishra struck twice to put the home side on top. Duminy played his part by taking a leaping catch at cover to send back AB de Villiers (4), before Mayank Agarwal was bowled two balls later. At the halfway mark Bangalore were 57 for 4, and with a long tail to come, in big trouble.
Virat Kohli and Tiwary put on a brisk 46-run partnership to put their team back on track, and when Reddy conceded a four and a six in the 16th over, it looked as if Bangalore had turned a corner. However, Kohli was out at the end of that over, furious with himself as he was caught at long-on for 42. It proved to be a costly error as Steyn returned to bowl the 17th over, conceding just one run and picking up Zaheer Khan, to end with Man-of-the-Match figures of 3 for 8. And when Tiwary (30) crumbled under the pressure of the asking rate to fall to Veer Pratap Singh in the 19th over, the game was as good as over. Bangalore’s bowlers could not get the 14 runs they needed off the final over, Reddy finishing with 3 for 25, and Deccan took the eighth spot to leave Pune Warriors at the bottom of the table.
That they had a decent total to defend was largely possible only due to Duminy, who came to his team’s rescue after they were in doldrums for more than half the game. Having been put in to bat, Deccan lost Shikhar Dhawan – their topscorer in this campaign – to Zaheer at the end of the very first over. The umpires missed it and turned down the bowler’s appeal for an lbw, but the fielders pointed out that the ball had just dislodged a bail on its way through to send Dhawan on his way.
It got worse for the hosts after Vinay Kumar had Akshath Reddy caught behind in the fourth over, before Cameron White read Prasanth Parameswaran’s short-length delivery wrong and attempted a pull that only resulted in a simple catch for Agarwal at square leg. With the Bangalore bowlers keeping things tight and Deccan struggling on a pitch where the ball did not come on to the bat easily, runs were hard to come by and the score was a paltry 23 for 2 at the end of the Powerplay overs.
That became 53 for 4 at the end of 12 overs after skipper Kumar Sangakkara, attempting to up the run-rate, gave the charge to his fellow Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan and was caught at long-off for 15.
However, Duminy remained steady at the other end, and with Parthiv Patel giving him company in a 71-run partnership, launched an attack on the otherwise disciplined Bangalore bowlers, to take his side to 132 for 7. His 53-ball 74 included 4 fours and 5 sixes, including three big ones off Muralitharan in an 18th over that cost 20 runs. Although he was out to a mistimed shot off a full toss off Zaheer in the next and Deccan managed only six runs off the final over, it proved to be enough in the end to help them avoid the wooden spoon and put a relieved Chennai through to the play-offs, while also confirming the third spot for Mumbai Indians.