(The Times Of India)
A charged-up Deccan ended Kings XI Punjab’s hopes of making it to the playoffs on Saturday, easing the passage of Mumbai Indians, who were in the danger zone, and Kolkata Knight Riders into the playoffs.
Deccan’s win ensured that the four qualifiers for the playoffs were confirmed, and the final two league matches on Sunday will only determine the order in which the top four teams now finish in the points table.
Chennai Super Kings, who lead the table, will play Royal Challengers at Bangalore while Mumbai travel to Kolkata to face Knight Riders.
The results of these matches will determine the pairing for the qualifier and the eliminator, so there is still much to play for the four teams on the final day of the league phase.
Kings have nobody but themselves to blame as nothing went right for them in a must-win game. The bowling was pathetic and fielding even worse. The batsmen they had relied on right through the season perished early.
But probably the biggest factor which went against the home team was Adam Gilchrist’s decision to chase rather than set a target.
After that big win over RCB the other night by batting first and posting a huge total, it was rather baffling that Gilchrist chose to bowl.
The huge target that the Deccan Chargers posted was always going to be a daunting one, and once KXIP lost their batting mainstays Paul Valthaty and Shaun Marsh early, the rest of the journey was like climbing the steep Dhauladhar mountains in the backdrop.
Ultimately, they fell 82 runs short of the target, and adding to their humiliating defeat was the hat-trick by leg-spinner Amit Mishra who sent back Ryan McLauren, Mandeep Singh and Ryan Harris off successive balls.
His figures of 4/7 were in sharp contrast to KXIP’s star leggie Piyush Chalwa’s thrashing of 48 runs without success in his four overs. It was a sad end to KXIP’s campaign. They had looked the best team in the latter part of the tournament till they floundered when it mattered the most.
Deccan Chargers were well-served by a fine century-partnership between openers Ravi Teja and Shikhar Dhawan, and they posted a health total of 198/2 in their 20 overs.
The pressure of getting runs at 10 an over told on KXIP as they lost wickets in a regular parade, and the writing was on the wall by the 10th over. By then the red KXIP flags had stopped waving in the stands and the stadium was almost empty.
The man of the match was Dhawan, who was once rated among the most talented players in the country. He, along with Ravi Teja, did not allow the KXIP bowlers to settle down as the left-right combination, flummoxed the bowlers so much that they lost their line and length on most occasions.
Praveen Kumar was a prime example. After having tamed a player of the calibre of Chris Gayle in the previous match, he was a pale shadow of himself and did not complete his quota of overs.
It was Teja who gave DC a flying start, taking full advantage of three reprieves given by the KXIP fielders. His contribution in the century stand was 60 off 41 balls, with five fours and two sixes.
Considering that 131 for the first wicket had come in just 13.2 overs, Deccan Chargers should have posted a total in excess of 200.
But after Teja’s departure, they lost a fair bit of momentum, so much so that Dhawan could not get to a richly-deserved century. His unbeaten 95 was only his second half-century of IPL 4.