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RCB halt at Miller’s crossing

From an improbable position,Punjab chase down highest total of season,190,thanks to a 38-ball 101* by the South African

Written by Shalini Gupta | Mohali |
May 7, 2013 1:10:39 am

Murali Kartik bowled straight and full. Gurkeerat Singh aimed a sweep at the ball,missed,and was struck on the front pad,plumb. Kings XI Punjab were 51 for three. In walked David Miller. So far this season,Miller’s scores had read 20,80 not out,34 not out,10,56 and 51 not out. This was a man in form. But the task ahead of the South African left-hander was arduous. Punjab,chasing 191 to beat Royal Challengers Bangalore,needed 140 runs from 12.2 overs,at over 11 and a half runs per over.

Over the next five overs,that asking rate grew even more steep. Miller had by now moved to 27 off 17,with a four and a straight six off Kartik,but Punjab had scored just 44 off 32 since his arrival,and lost David Hussey in the process. As Vinay Kumar,Bangalore’s highest wicket taker,marked his run-up before his third over (his figures at that stage read 2-0-13-1),Punjab needed 96 from 42 balls.

Drop by drop

Second ball of that over,Chris Gayle dropped Rajagopal Sathish,at point. It wasn’t the easiest of chances,high to his left,but it allowed the batsmen to scramble a single and get Miller on strike again. The identity of the fielder was quite ironic too. Earlier that evening,Gayle had scored 61 off 33 balls. Earlier in the tournament,he had smashed a 30-ball hundred. Now,Miller was about to do something very,very similar.

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Vinay Kumar banged one in a touch short. Miller pulled it for four. The next ball,fuller,disappeared over the long on ropes. Then another short ball,another pull,and another boundary. Miller then launched the next one high off the top edge. Virat Kohli,at cover,moved underneath it and positioned himself perfectly to catch it Aussie-style,hands above his face. The ball split a path between those hands,however,and smacked him flush on the face. The batsmen scrambled another single. Miller,at that point,was on 42 from 22. Punjab needed 79 from 36.

Over the course of the next six balls,both those run-to-ball ratios took a severe beating. RP Singh bowled those balls,and they cost Bangalore six over long off,a wide,another six over long off,and three fours,the first smashed straight down the ground and the next two scorching their way to the midwicket and point boundaries. Miller was on 67 off 28; Punjab needed 53 from 30.

On came Ravi Rampaul. Miller had taken a single off the last ball of RP’s over. First ball,slower ball. Miller saw it early and dumped it over deep midwicket for six. Later in the over,he took four off another slower ball,guiding it just wide of the keeper with an open face. A four and a six off the next over,off Vinay,left Miller on 95 off 35. Punjab were cantering home,needing only 19 from 18.

Third fastest ipl ton

On came,appropriately enough,Gayle,to bowl his off breaks. Sathish was on strike,having made 12 out of a partnership of 108. Rather than take a single and allow Miller to get to his hundred without any hassle,Sathish decided to show that he could hit it hard and long as well. Cue a straight six and two fours in four balls. A single off the fifth ball brought Miller back on strike. He needed five to reach his hundred; Punjab needed three to win. Almost predictably,Miller ended it with a six to score the third quickest IPL ton.

Earlier,Gayle and Cheteshwar Pujara — who scored a 48-ball 51 in his first match of the season — put on a first-wicket stand of 102 in 11.2 overs before AB de Villiers came in and provided his trademark late fireworks in an innings of 38 off 19,to help Bangalore post 190. Everything,in short,seemed to be going exactly to plan,following the Bangalore template every step of the way. But Miller had other plans.

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