Deccan Chargers had nothing to lose, while Pune Warriors had everything to gain. The former champions, winners of the second edition of the IPL in South Africa, were already out of this season’s playoffs even before Monday’s game at the DY Patil Stadium.
But Pune, though virtually out, still had a mathematical chance, however faint that might have been. Though their fate was more in the hands of others, they had to at least win all their remaining games and pray for the others to lose. That’s not going to happen, not in this season at least.
The Warriors went down to Chargers by six wickets, and with it died their hopes of making the IPL 4 playoffs. It was always going to be an uphill task for them after they struggled to post a modest 136 despite a good start. And once Chargers openers Shikhar Dhawan (28) and Sunny Sohal (34) laid a strong 67-run foundation for the first wicket in quick time, it was just a matter of time for the Warriors fans’ hearts to break. Skipper Kumar Sangakkara (25), Daniel Christian (14 not out) and JP Duminy (23) ensured that their openers’ good work didn’t go waste, reaching the target with four balls to spare. Amit Mishra was named the man-of-the-match for his 2 for 26.
Earlier, Sangakkara called correctly under overcast conditions and promptly chose to field. But till the last ball of the fourth over, it looked like the Chargers’ skipper had erred in deciding to chase. Thirty-one runs were already on the board, Jesse Ryder was going great guns, his partner Manish Pandey was looking dangerous and the wicket was playing true.
One stunner of a catch changed it all. Ryder stepped back to unleash a full-blooded drive off what was Dale Steyn’s final ball of his first spell. Ravi Teja, at short extra cover, plucked the ball out of thin air, just inches off the ground. Ryder’s 18 came off 14 balls and was studded with a four and a six. The procession had begun.
Sourav Ganguly came in next, a huge roar from the half-filled stadium announcing his arrival. But even before the roar could subside, Dada left, after scratching around for five balls with no runs to show for. Christian was the successful bowler, with Pragyan Ojha pouching the limp heave in the covers.
Robin Uthappa began with a boundary before falling to leggie Amit Mishra’s guile, and Mithun Manhas saw his stumps scattered the next ball with a Mishra ‘doosra’ that spun a long way in. Pandey sent Ojha for a huge six over long-off but the wily spinner had his revenge the very next ball, uprooting the Warriors opener’s middle stump.