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Gibbs, Gilchrist lead Deccan's charge

By Harish Kotian
Last updated on: April 27, 2009 20:14 IST
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Non-regular spinners from both teams thrived, but, in the end, it was the batting of Herschelle Gibbs and Adam Gilchrist that ensured Deccan Chargers their fourth consecutive victory in the Indian Premier League's second season.

The South African opener struck an unbeaten 69 while the former Aussie wicketkeeper-batsman scored 44 off 19 deliveries, including five fours and three sixes, as Chargers beat Chennai Super Kings by six wickets, with three deliveries to spare.

Gibbs hit six boundaries and two sixes in his 56-ball knock and along with Gilchrist gave his team a solid start.

Chennai Super Kings frittered away a good start from Matthew Hayden, who hit 49 from 35 deliveries (eight boundaries), as the middle order failed yet again. It was only a late flurry from Jacb Oram (41 from 29 deliveries) that enabled them post 165 for six in their 20 overs.

Chennai innings:

Deccan, who elected to field, made a couple of changes, bringing in Azhar Bilakhia and Shoaib Ahmed for D Ravi Teja and Harmeet Singh respectively. In the Chennai side, Jacob Oram replaced Andrew Flintoff, who has returned home after picking an injury.

Fidel Edwards continued fine run with the ball, striking with the second delivery of the match. Parthiv Patel tried to glance a short delivery aimed at his ribs through the leg side but could only glove it behind the wickets. (0-1, 0.2)

But Chennai could not be kept quiet for long. Immediately, in the second over, they launched a swift counter-attack. Matthew Hayden walked down the wicket and dismissed a short delivery from RP Singh through the midwicket region and followed it up with another powerful boundary through point region.

Suresh Raina ended the over in grand style; the left-hander went down on one leg and slammed the bowler over the off-side for a six.

Hayden repeated the dose in Edwards's next over when he smashed another couple of boundaries.

And it was a case of fortune favouring the brave when Hayden got a lifeline on 17. Gilchrist floored an easy catch, diving to his left when the ball appeared heading straight to the first slip fielder (Laxman) as Hayden tried to guide Edwards through the third man region.

Part-timer Dwayne Smith was welcomed to the bowling crease by Raina with a huge six through midwicket, followed by another couple of boundaries from Hayden.

The two left-handers were going at 11 runs per over as Chennai put up 55 for one after five overs.

Surprisingly, the Deccan captain brought on another part-timer, Venugopal Rao, into the attack for the sixth over, when the fielding restrictions were still in effect. Raina promptly despatched the first delivery, which was short in length, through the covers for a boundary as Chennai reached 62 for one after six overs.

The parade of part-timers continued, with Rohit Sharma called into the attack in the seventh over to bowl his off-spinners.

The move paid instant dividends as he struck, claiming the vital wicket of Raina, who was caught and bowled for 25. The Indian youngster, who smashed a boundary and two sixes in his 19-ball knock, hit a powerful shot straight back and Sharma somehow managed to hold on to the catch.

The two left-handers added 64 runs for the second wicket in just 6.3 overs to help Chennai bounce back after the early loss of Patel. (64-2, 6.5)

It turned out to be a masterstroke by Gilchrist, as Sharma not only took a wicket but also went for just three runs in his opening over, which was followed by Venugopal Rao conceding just four in his next over.

In fact, the two spinners sent down a tight four-over spell, giving away just 22 runs.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni seemed to have had enough of the spinners running through with their overs. He danced down the wicket and lofted Venugopal high into the stands through midwicket for his first six as Chennai reached 88 for two in 10 overs.

Surprisingly, with the spinners doing so well, Gilchrist was yet to introduce his main spinner, Pragyan Ojha. The left-arm spinner was brought on immediately after the halfway mark in an attempt to stop Hayden, who was looking in pretty good knick on 45 from 30 deliveries, inclusive of eight boundaries.

From the other end, Gilchrist brought on his seventh bowler in debutant Shoaib Ahmed in the 12th over. The 21-year-old medium pacer bowled a good first over, conceding just four runs, and might have even got an edge off Dhoni, but he did not appeal.

But Ojha brought Deccan right back into the match with the wickets of Dhoni and Hayden in his second over.

Dhoni tried to lift the tempo when he stepped out to loft Ojha but could only hit straight to Shoaib on the cover boundary.

The Chennai captain made 22 off as many deliveries, inclusive of a four and a six, adding 38 runs in 5.4 overs for the third wicket with Hayden. His batting has been a huge let down in his tournament; he has a tally of 79 runs in four matches at 19.75. (102-3, 12.3)

Three deliveries later, Hayden followed him back when he hit Ojha straight to the midwicket fielder.

The left-hander fell one run short of his half-century, having hit eight boundaries in his 35-ball knock, but fell at just about the wrong time. (Chennai 103-4, 13)

Hayden's dismissal saw Chennai getting bogged down further, with only 17 runs coming from the next overs as Gilchrist constantly shuffled his bowlers around.

Albie Morkel mistimed a slog sweep for six over long-on but fell to the next delivery when he hit straight to the midwicket fielder for 13 off 7 deliveries. (129-5, 16.5)

But, somehow, Gilchrist seemed to have messed up things a bit at this crucial juncture. Ojha (2-11) had two overs remaining and was expected to bowl the 18th over and 20th over, but, shockingly, newcomer Ahmed was given the ball.

And Oram made them pay, starting the over with a boundary and two straight sixes as 20 runs came off Ahmed's over as Chennai put up 153 for five after 18.

While Oram was going great guns with boundaries in consecutive overs off Edwards and RP Singh, Subramaniam Badrinath failed to get going. The Chennai batsman scored eight from as many deliveries before he got a top-edge off an attempted pull shot and was caught by the bowler Singh. (165-6, 19.5)

Oram finished unbeaten on 41 from 29 deliveries, inclusive of four boundaries and two sixes, as Chennai posted 165 for six in their 20 overs, including 52 runs in the last five overs.

Chennai used as many as seven bowlers, Ojha producing best figures of two for 11.

Edwards once again impressed, taking one for 21 in four overs, while Rohit (1-18 in three overs) and Venugopal (1-35 in four) made vital contributions with the ball.

Chennai must be ruing wasting another good start from Hayden as the last 10 overs produced just 77 runs for the loss of four wickets.

Deccan will be delighted to keep Chennai under the 180-run mark, especially after the blazing start Raina and Hayden had given them.

Hyderabad innings:

Gilchrist got the innings off to a flier with consecutive boundaries off Laxmipathy Balaji, the first over fetching 11 runs.

Gibbs also seemed in great touch and Manpreet Gony was the one to suffer as he smashed him for three boundaries and a six in his first over as Deccan raced to 31 in two overs.

In the next over, Balaji failed to hold on to a difficult chance from Gilchrist when the batsman hit straight back to him while attempting a pull shot. Balaji was made to pay heavily for that. The Aussie pulled one for a six through square leg, and followed it up with a boundary through midwicket. The last ball of the over was despatched over the long-on boundary for another six as Deccan raced to 48 for no loss in three overs.

Morkel came into the attack in the fourth over but he also suffered the same fate. Gilchrist thumped the third delivery through the cover region for a boundary to bring up his team's 50, the fastest in this season's IPL. The next delivery was carted over the fine leg boundary for a huge six that landed out of the stadium as Deccan were comfortably placed at 60 after four overs.

Muttiah Muralitharan brought some sanity to the proceedings, giving away just six runs in his first over. And taking a cue from Gilchrist, Dhoni introduced a part-time spinner into the attack in Suresh Raina.

It was Raina's loppy off-breaks that helped Chennai claw back into the contest as he claimed two wickets in his first two overs.

Gilchrist was the first, when he tried to play a forceful cut shot but hit it straight to Muralitharan at backward point. The Deccan captain smashed 44 from 18 deliveries, inclusive of five boundaries and a six, adding 67 runs in 5.3 overs for the opening wicket with Gibbs, to give his team a very big early advantage. (67-1, 5.3)

VVS Laxman fell to an identical shot in Raina's next over, caught at backward point attempting a cut shot but was undone by a delivery that bounced a bit more.

The former Deccan captain has so far struggled to make any impact in this year's tournament, with just 19 runs from four matches. (75-2, 7.3)

Five overs passed without any boundary with Raina and Muralitharan keeping the batsmen on a tight leash. Just 19 runs came in the last five overs with Deccan reaching 85 for two in 10 overs, needing another 81 in the last 10.

Deccan managed to break the shackles somewhat with 14 runs in the 11th over bowled by Joginder Sharma, Gibbs bagging a boundary and Sharma smashing a six.

Raina conceded his first boundary in his final over but ended up with magnificent figures of two for 18 in four.

Balaji, who gave 28 in his first two overs, bounced back in style with the key wicket of Sharma. The Deccan youngster was caught behind off an edge as he tried to cut Balaji through point and was dismissed for 18 off 19 deliveries. (114-3, 13.4)

Dwayne Smith took charge from the moment he walked out. He smashed the second delivery that he faced from Oram for a boundary and followed it up with a six as Deccan reached 129 for three in 15 overs.

With 37 runs needed off the last five overs, Deccan looked on course for an easy victory. However, Muralitharan made sure things got a bit difficult for them as he struck with the wicket of Dwayne Smith, leg before for 12. (130-4, 15.2)

It was Gibbs, who was holding the key and he cruised to his half-century in the 17th over with a single to long-on off Morkel. The South African opener completed his fifty in just 46 deliveries, with five boundaries and a six. After the dismissal of Gilchrist, he took it upon himself and ensured that he stayed on till the end to guide his team to victory.

His first 20 runs took just 12 balls after which he adopted a more conservative and responsible approach, taking 34 for his next 30 runs, but the blazing start meant he never had to force the issue in the middle overs.

With 16 needed from the last two overs, Azhar Bilakhia gave Gibbs good support as the duo looked to play it sensibly rather attempt rash shots. It came to eight off the last over and Gibbs made sure there was no last-over drama with a six off the first delivery from Balaji. Two deliveries later Bilakhia smashed one over the point region for a boundary to take Deccan Chargers to 169 for four and victory by six wickets with three deliveries to spare.

Gibbs finished unbeaten on a magnificent knock of 69 from 56 deliveries, including five boundaries and two sixes, and proved to be the difference in the final analysis.

Bilakhia kept his cool in the closing stages and finished unbeaten on 12 from 13 deliveries.

Chennai must be ruing not having enough spinners in their line-up, as the slow bowlers were the most difficult to hit. Gilchrist deserves due credit for reading the pitch quite early and using all the spinners in his squad to restrict Chennai, which proved quite crucial.

The two spinners, Muralitharan (1-17) and Raina (2-18), gave away 35 runs in their eight overs but the rest of the bowlers failed to deliver.

In the end, it turned out to be a day of part-timers, the non-regular bowlers claiming six of the 10 ten wickets to fall in the match.

Chennai must be wondering how to get out of this losing run, having lost three out of five matches. On the other hand, Deccan, who finished bottom last season, are sitting pretty on top with four wins out of four matches in the second season.

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Harish Kotian

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