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Gilchrist fires Deccan Chargers to the top

By Harish Kotian
Last updated on: April 23, 2009 00:21 IST
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It rained sixes at the Newlands in Cape Town on Wednesday as Deccan Chargers beat Bangalore Royal Challengers by 24 runs in the only Indian Premier League match of the day.

Adam Gilchrist produced a batting masterclass, scoring 71 from 45 deliveries, and Rohit Sharma followed it up with 52 off 30 balls -- both batsmen hitting five sixes -- as Deccan Chargers posted 184 for six in 20 overs, the highest total of the tournament.

In reply, Bangalore Royal Challengers, despite a brave 48 off 27 deliveries (5 boundaries, 2 sixes) by Rahul Dravid, rarely threatened and could only put up 160 for eight in their 20 overs. Virat Kohli chipped in with 50 from 32 deliveries, but it could not prevent Bangalore from losing their second straight match.

Scott Styris claimed three for 32 and R P Singh two for 17 in four overs to restrict the Bangalore side.

Deccan Chargers won the toss and elected to bat. Bangalore started off with a strange field placing -- just two men on the leg side and a packed off-side field -- but the strategy backfired.

Gilchrist seemed in a hurry, scoring a hat-trick of boundaries against Praveen Kumar in the first over of the match. The first was crashed through midwicket, as the ball dropped short and straight, while the other two were creamed through small gaps on the off-side.

Keeping the field placing in mind, Dale Steyn also resorted to bowling outside off-stump and Gilchrist could only smile after despatching two more boundaries through point. Two balls later, the former Aussie wicketkeeper needed no second invitation when Steyn served a tempting half-volley that was thumped straight over for a six.

The introduction of Jacques Kallis in the third over hardly mattered. This time it was his South African team-mate Herschelle Gibbs who walked down the wicket and crashed a full toss through the covers for a boundary.

Kumar came on from the other end but was still clueless as the two openers looked determined to hit him out of the park. Gibbs produced an unbelievable shot when he tried to paddle a full delivery from the pace bowler but top-edged it for a six over the fine leg boundary.

However, Kumar had the last laugh, trapping Gibbs leg before wicket off the next delivery. The right-hander scored 13 from 7 deliveries (1x4, 1x6) and was involved in a rampaging 46-run opening partnership off 23 deliveries, at nearly 12 runs per over, that laid a solid foundation. (46-1, 3.5 overs)

Kallis came in for his second spell, but was subject to the same treatment. He was smashed by Gilchrist for a six and boundary off consecutive deliveries, off full deliveries, as the bowler again erred in length against the Aussie left-hander.

Jesse Ryder's golden arm provided Bangalore an instant breakthrough yet again. He tempted Laxman into playing a lofted shot straight to Steyn at mid-off to dismiss him for five off 10 deliveries. (66-2, 71.)

Rohit was fortunate to survive early on as his inside edge off an attempted drive through the off-side missed the leg stump before crashing into the boundary.

Gilchrist brought up his half-century with a huge six over midwicket off Ryder in the tenth over of the innings. He needed just 31 deliveries to reach the landmark; it contained six boundaries and two sixes. Three balls later he repeated the dose for another big six, his fourth of the innings, as Deccan Chargers raced to 91 for two in 10 overs at the halfway stage.

They went in with the strategy of playing out Anil Kumble's four overs and it was quite sensible since runs were coming at a fair pace from the other end. But Gilchrist could not resist having a go at the ace spinner as he smashed him for a huge six through square leg to race to 66 from 39 deliveries.

Pietersen came into the attack and bowled an excellent over considering the circumstances, giving away just six in his opening over, bowling flat and fast.

Rohit then took cue from Gilchrist's book, thrashing Kumble for three sixes in his final over. The Mumbai youngster swept the first ball over midwicket for a six, and followed it up with another couple of sixes through the same over to destroy Kumble's final analysis, which read no wicket for 39 runs in four overs.

It was Pietersen who claimed the key wicket of Gilchrist, who was caught by Virat Kohli in the covers after a superb knock of 71. The veteran batsman, who hit six boundaries and five sixes in his 45-ball knock, added 61 runs in six overs for the third wicket with Rohit. (127-3, 13.1)

Stryis was dropped on 2, but his charmed life didn't last long he fell in Pietersen's next over for 14 from 8 deliveries. The Kiwi all-rounder despatched the England spinner for a huge six over midwicket, but fell off the next delivery attempting the same shot.

Rohit was unstoppable as he thumped Ryder for another six, his fourth, through his favourite midwicket region. New batsman Venugopal Rao found difficult getting going, scoring just three from his first six deliveries.

Rohit hit his fifth six through the midwicket region when he effortlessly despatched Pietersen over the boundary ropes. He brought up his half-century off just 28 deliveries with a single on the leg side to a huge cheer from the crowd, who had already got a fair share of their money's worth.

Just when it looked he would turn on things in the final couple of overs, he fell to a tame dismissal. The right-hander, who scored 52 from 30 deliveries, inclusive of a boundary and five sixes, walked across his stumps to play Steyn on the leg side but got a top edge which was gobbled up by Pietersen at mid-on. (172-5, 18.2)

His dismissal saw Bangalore pull back things a bit in the last couple of overs. Rao struggled to get going before he was run out by Kallis for 9 off 13 deliveries. (173-6, 19)

Just 14 runs came off the last two overs as Chargers finished on a strong 184 for six in their 20 overs.

Pietersen deserves credit for keeping the Chargers well under the 200-run mark. His spell of two for 31 in four overs, which included the wickets of Gilchrist and Styris, put the brakes on the run-spree.

Dravid's gallant knock in vain

Ryder's horror run with the bat continued as he fell for a duck for the second straight match. He was bowled by a superb yorker from Fidel Edwards off the first delivery of the innings. (0-1, 0.1)

But Kallis came out determined and ended the first over with a couple of boundaries through square leg as Edwards faltered with his line.

Rudra Pratap Singh started off well with just three runs in his first over and Edwards followed it with a two-run over as Bangalore were restricted to 15 for one after three overs.

Kallis tried to break the shackles with a pull shot against Singh that went to the boundary, but fell three balls later to the same bowler. The South African all-rounder hit a half-volley straight to Rohit in the covers and was dismissed for 15 off 14 deliveries, inclusive of three boundaries. (19-2, 3.5)

Young Harmeet Singh again impressed with a good opening over that saw him concede just six runs. R P Singh made sure things didn't get easier with another six-run over as Bangalore failed to make best use of the first six overs,  scoring only 31 for two. At the same stage, Deccan Chargers were sitting pretty on double that score, having reached 62 for one in six overs.

Robin Uthappa tried to lift the tempo with a lofted shot over midwicket against Styris, but to his disbelief Ravi Teja came up with a brilliant catch. Uthappa was a big disappointment with the bat, scoring just 12 from 19 deliveries, inclusive of a single boundary, at a time when the team needed a brisk start. (38-3, 7.2)

At the other end, Pietersen was also struggling to get a move on with just 11 runs scored from 14 deliveries faced, including a boundary.

Right from the third over, when Bangalore were 15 for one, they never could break past the six-runs per over mark even till the halfway stage, when they were 57 for three in 10 overs. With 128 runs needed from the last 10 overs and the batsmen failing to come to grips with the conditions, things seemed as good as over for Bangalore.

But the traditionally conservative Dravid came out like a man possessed. He had no problems getting the boundaries as he raced to 20 from 14 deliveries, inclusive of three boundaries. But, unfortunately, for him and the team, at the other end, no batsmen could get going and things only got worse with Pietersen's dismissal.

Ojha, who had a brilliant outing with the ball in the first game, once again came up trumps with the ball. Pietersen's impatience finally grew thin as he stepped down to a flighted delivery from Ojha and was stumped for 11. The Bangalore captain seemed burdened by Deccan's huge score as he rarely threatened with the bat during his 15-ball knock during which he managed just one boundary. (62-4, 10.3)

Dravid fought a lone battle as he smashed a six and two boundaries to take 17 runs off Harmeet in the 14th over. Virat Kohli also seemed keen on making a match out of it as he flicked Edwards for consecutive boundaries through the leg side. But still 76 runs were needed off the last five overs.

Dravid's adventurous knock ended when he hit Styris straight down the throat of Venugopal Rao at long-off. The former India captain smashed 48 from 27 deliveries that included five boundaries and two sixes, but even with his knock Deccan Chargers never seemed in any sort of danger. (115-5, 15.4)

Two wickets fell in quick succession when Rajesh Bishnoi was run-out for two (3 deliveries), while Karan Sharma was caught behind off Styris for 1 (3 deliveries).

Kohli continued to enjoy himself despite the target being well out of reach. The Delhi youngster smashed Edwards for two more boundaries in the 19th over and then took a single in the final over to bring up his half-century. However, he fell off the next ball he faced as he lifted RP Singh straight to Gibbs at long-on to be dismissed for 50 off 32 deliveries, with seven boundaries. (158-8, 19.4)

Bangalore finished on 160 for eight in their 20 overs and lost the match by 24 runs. RP Singh once again excelled with the ball, claiming two for 17 in four overs to take his tally to six wickets in the tournament, the most by any bowler so far. It fetched him the purple cap.

But Ojha deserves special mention too as he took one for 27 in four overs; Styris took three for 32 in four overs.

After Gilchrist took charge of the game with his blazing batting, Deccan Chargers never let Bangalore back in the match at any stage. As Dravid correctly pointed out later, Bangalore lost the game in the first six overs with the ball and the first six overs with the bat.

Bangalore's big problem remains with the ball. They have now conceded the two biggest scores of the tournament already in three games. They beat Rajasthan in their opening match, but even then they escaped despite the lacklustre batting.

It is really surprising to see Bangalore struggling; they boast the tournament's current highest run scorer in Dravid (134 runs) and the joint-second highest wicket-taker in Kumble (5 wickets). The failure of their openers is hurting them a great deal. Time captain Pietersen leads from the front with a solid batting display.

Hyderabad, who finished at the bottom last season, rightly sit atop the standings with four points from two big victories.

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Harish Kotian

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