Rohit Sharma struck a vital half-century and shared 82 runs for the fourth-wicket with Mohnish Mishra (41) as title holders Deccan Chargers beat Royal Challengers Bangalore by 13 runs to stay afloat for a semi-final spot in the Indian Premier League here on Monday.
Rohit (51 off 46) and Mohnish Mishra (41 off 30) resurrected the Deccan innings with the 60-ball valuable partnership to guide the defending champions to 151 for six after Dale Steyn (3/18) did the early damage with three quick wickets.
And then the Deccan bowlers rose to the occasion with RP Singh (2/21), Pragyan Ojha (2/22), Harmeet Singh (2/24) and Ryan Harris (2/34) sharing eight wickets among themselves to bowl out the Royal Challengers for 138 in 19.4 overs.
Rahul Dravid top-scored for Royal Challengers with a classical 49 while Robin Uthappa made a breezy 34 off 20 balls.
Chasing the modest target, Royal Challengers did not have the perfect start as Ryan Harris struck in his and innings’ first delivery for Deccan.
The Australian pacer found Manish Pandey fishing at a moving delivery, only to get a thick edge which Deccan skipper Adam Gilchrist obliged with both hands.
But then came in Rahul Dravid who looked in great touch. He opened his account with a copy book drive off Harris and then welcomed Andrew Symonds with two boundaries in his first over.
Harmeet also faced the brunt of Dravid’s aggression as he hit the medium pacer for back-to-back boundaries.
However, Dravid’s 35-ball beautiful innings, which was studded with eight fours, was halted by Symonds just one run before the half century as the right-hander hit one straight to Sumanth at the long-off boundary.
Dravid’s downfall seemed to have pumped Deccan as they picked three more wickets in consecutive overs to claw back into the game.
Ojha displayed some fine left-arm spin bowling and accounted for two Bangalore batsmen – Jacques Kallis and Virat Kohli – during his four overs spell.
He first got the vital wicket of tournament’s highest run-getter Jacques Kallis (25 off 37), caught by Sumanth and then had Kohli out in identical fashion.
RP Singh too picked up two crucial wickets to help his side’s cause. The left-arm pacer disturbed Ross Taylor’s timbers with a beauty of a yorker and then picked up Cameron White in his next over, caught by Symonds.
However, in-form Uthappa had other plans. Needing 39 off the last three overs, he clobbered Harris twice over the boundary to bring it down to 18 off 12 balls.
But then came the deciding moment of the match as Harmeet not only clean bowled dangerman Uthappa and then had Steyn lbw in the next delivery, but conceded only one run in the penultimate over.
In the end it proved to be a tall task for the Bangalore tailenders to score 17 runs off the final over as they could manage only three.
Earlier, Steyn justified his captain Anil Kumble’s decision to bowl first after winning the toss with double strike in the opening over. The South African pacer sent packing both Gilchrist and T Suman for one-ball duck to mark a dream start for the Bangalore side.
Steyn first induced a thin edge from Gilchrist’s willow in the fourth ball of the innings which Uthappa had no problems in grasping behind the stumps and then had Suman caught at the backward short-leg by Taylor after the right-hander failed to negotiate a short delivery.
Steyn again came to the party in his next over, going through Herschelle Gibbs’ (12) defence to register his third wicket of the day and see Deccan in a spot of bother at 14 for three.
But from there on Rohit and Mishra played sensibly and mixed caution with aggression to drag their side out of trouble.
Mishra was at his aggressive best as he hit Kumble, Kohli and KP Appanna for a six each apart from the lone boundary off Kallis before his 30-ball stay at the crease was cut short by an unnecessary run out.
Rohit too did not lag behind as he struck seven boundaries during his 46-ball innings — three of which came of Kallis in the 12th over.
Rohit was also involved in a 30-ball 35-run fifth wicket stand with Symonds (19 off 20) before the former Australian all-rounder was stumped by Uthappa off Kumble.
But just when it was time to step up the accelerator Rohit departed, caught by Pandey off R Vinay Kumar after he went for a big shot in search of quick runs.
Harris came up with a handy nine-ball 13-run unbeaten innings, while Sumanth remained unconquered on six to help Deccan get past the 150 mark.