Defending champions Deccan Chargers produced a clinical bowling performance to notch up a thrilling 11-run win over Delhi Daredevils and qualify for the semi-finals in the IPL here on Sunday.
Deccan Chargers defended a modest total of 145 for seven, built around Andrew Symonds’ breezy 54, and then shut the semi-final door on Delhi at Ferozeshah Kotla stadium.
The visiting bowlers bowled a tight line and length to restrict Delhi to 134 for seven. Deccan fielding though was patchy with a mix of some outstanding effort and a few dropped catches.
Paul Collingwood (51), who was dropped twice when on 36 and 42, and Ashish Nehra (22 not out) raised hopes of a stunning win by some smart batting, also helped by dropped catches by their rivals, but Chaminda Vaas bowled a superb last over for Deccan.
At one stage, Delhi were 86 for seven but Collingwood and Nehra rattled up a 48-run partnership for the unfinished eighth wicket to get the hosts closer to the target.
Delhi needed 16 runs off the last over but Vaas gave away just five runs, not conceding a single boundary, as Deccan recorded their fifth win a row.
Pragyan Ojha bowled exceptionally well for Deccan taking two wickets and conceding just 16 runs from his four overs.
Harmeet Singh also took two wickets while Vaas and Mitchell Marsh scalped one each.
With the win on Sunday, Deccan finished second on league table with 16 points from 14 matches.
After Sunday’s match, the semi-final line-up has almost been drawn. Table toppers Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings have already made it to the semi-finals.
Bangalore Royal Challengers would virtually be the fourth side in the semi-final line-up, save for a big win by Kolkata Knight Riders at home against Mumbai Indians on Monday.
For KKR to make it to the semi-finals, their win against Mumbai on Monday should be so big to take their current net run rate of minus 0.456 past Bangalore’s plus 0.219.
Delhi made a poor start in their chase of 146 runs and lost wickets in a hurry. Rohit Sharma’s exceptional catches also played a big part in the Delhi’s top-order collapse.
Mitchell Marsh began the rot by removing David Warner (5) and soon Virender Sehwag (8) joined his opening partner when Rohit took a stunner, inches off the ground, in slip cordon off Vaas.
Big hitting Tillakaratne Dilshan was the next man to go when Harmeet Singh trapped him LBW as the hosts managed just 39 runs in the first six overs.
More shock was awaiting the home team after power-play as skipper Gautam Gambhir (4) fell pray to another stunning catch by Rohit at mid-wicket off Pragyan Ojha, Collingwood and Mithun Manhas dug in but they did not score quickly and soon the required run-rate shot up. At half-way mark the hosts were 59 for four.
Manhas’ 23 run knock ended with a run out and soon Dinesh Karthik became the second victim of Ojha.
Earlier, Deccan did not get the kind of start they would have wanted as they struggled to keep wickets. Before the half-way mark, Deccan had lost top four batsmen but Symonds made sure his team stand in contest.
The burly Australian took the Delhi attack by the scruff of its neck and steered his side to a fighting total. Opener Monish Mishra was the other notable scorer for Deccan with his 19-ball 25.
Umesh Yadav did extremely well for Delhi by taking two wickets and his pace colleague Dirk Nannes bowled with amazing control and gave away just 22 runs from his quota of four overs.
Symonds was in awesome touch as he executed some big shots, clearing the ropes quite comfortably, but also got runs from some deft and delicate touch shots.
Cashing in on a life given by Amit Mishra off the spinner’s own bowling when on 11, Symonds pulled his team out of dire straits with some lusty hitting.
Symonds’ knock, his fifth IPL fifty, was studded with five sixes and three boundaries and his departure in the 15th over dented Deccan’s chances for a big total.
Before going back to dug out, Symonds treated the capacity crowd at Feroz Shah Kotla with sixes off Mishra and Tillakaratne Dilshan.
It was Mishra who finally got Symonds out by getting him caught by Mithun Manhas at long-off.
Earlier, skipper Adam Gilchrist’s (10) poor run continued and yet again the explosive batsman let his team down, lasting a mere nine balls. He walked back to the hut after miscuing a pull off Ashish Nehra in the second over of the innings.
Monish though was unperturbed and smashed Nehra for a six and a four in the Delhi pacer’s next over.
T Suman, who replaced Gilchrist’s at the crease, did not last long either as Yadav cleaned him up with his first ball of the spell.
Yadav struck again for his team, removing in-form Rohit Sharma (11) after being hit for two consecutive fours by the batsman.