Chris Gayle,Tillakaratne Dilshan,AB de Villiers,Virat Kohli and Zaheer Khan (he too is a batsman,apparently) could not help Royal Challengers Bangalore chase down a paltry target of 133 set by the weakest side in this league,and so the Chennai Super Kings made it through to the playoffs of Season Five instead.
It was a remarkable turn of fortunes for the defending champions who looked all but out after their defeat to the Kings XI Punjab in Dharamsala last week. To stay in the hunt,they needed three results to go their way: Delhi beat Kings XI and the beleaguered Chargers,who had won only two of their first 14 games,defeat both Royals and RCB.
What makes Sundays result surprising is that in their previous game,Gayle scored 128 runs all by himself against the best side in the league,Delhi. On Sunday,the entire unit inclusive of Gayle made 123 runs,falling nine runs short of Deccans total,as Chennai sneaked into the playoffs on net run rate.
Kohli takes blame
At the end of the game,a visibly shattered Kohli,the stand-in skipper of this side,took a fair share of the blame,claiming that it was his wicket during the chase that changed the game in Deccans favour. However,Kohli was perhaps just being modest,considering hardly anyone in the Bangalore side managed to perform their respective duties,after reducing Deccan to 51/4 in 11.1 overs.
At that point of total disarray,Deccans JP Duminy was batting on a 25-ball 21,having struggled severely to time the ball on this two-paced Rajiv Gandhi Stadium pitch. But the South African powered on nevertheless,scratching away doubles and stealing singles at opportune moments to drag the total towards the three figure mark. Still,Deccan were far,far away from ending a miserable season with a feel good win and RCB were well on their way to making the playoff cut. Then Duminy decided to make life a little harder for the visitors.
In the 16th over bowled by Vinay Kumar,Duminy found his first boundary in ages a loopy six over long-on. The stroke brought him confidence,and with that he teed off against Zaheer in the 17th,with a fiercely cut four and a six over extra cover to bring up his fifty. The 18th over,bowled by Muttiah Muralitharan was even better,as Duminy went about making the No. 800 man look like a net bowler,with three sixes in the cow corner area. JP had 74,DC 132.
In what was a do-or-die chase for RCB,things began according to plan. Gayle tore into Manpreet Gony,plundering 24 runs in just the second over of the innings. At that point,Bangalore required 106 runs from 108 balls at 5.88 runs/over with 10 wickets in hand. Too easy? Not when Dale Steyn is bowling.
Having just ducked under a Steyn bouncer in the fourth ball,Gayle tried to reply by backing away to the leg and smashing the following steamer through the off. Instead,a thick inside edge on to the stumps put an end to the seasons highest run tally. And from there on,it was all downhill for one of the strongest sides of this season.
Had it been just Steyn who would end up causing maximum damage to the RCB batting lineup,then the collapse would have been forgiven. But while Steyn finished with remarkable figures of 4-0-8-3,there were equally significant and spectacular bowling performances by some of his less fabled mates.
Ashish Reddy bowled a fantastic final over and ended up with figures of 3/25 from four,Veer Pratap Singh was equally able in the crucial penultimate,finishing with figures 1/26 in his full quota. But the man who really guided the hosts home with some quality leg spin was Amit Mishra — who claimed both de Villiers and Mayank Agarwal in the 10th over of the game.
With de Villiers,the best finisher in the line-up,gone before the second half of the innings,Kohli and Saurabh Tiwary did their best to fill in. They added 46 runs in six overs,but as Kohli attempted to hoick Reddy for consecutive sixes,he holed out for 42 at long-on. If de Villiers batting high up the order was surprising,then Zaheer at No.7 was jaw-dropping.
At that point,RCB needed 30 off 24 balls. Steyn cleaned up Zaheer for a four ball duck,and his bowling allies dusted off the rest.