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Challengers slay Kings to enter final

By Harish Kotian
Last updated on: May 24, 2009 00:06 IST
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They were the last two teams in the inaugural season of the Indian Premier League. This season though Royal Challengers Bangalore and Deccan Chargers will fight it out for the title.

Bangalore, who finished seventh -- a rung above Deccan Chargers last year, stormed into the title round when they upstaged tournament favourites Chennai Super Kings by six wickets in the second semi-final, in Johannesburg, on Saturday.

Once again it was the young Manish Pandey, India's first centurion in the IPL, who played a stellar role in the victory, with a quickfire innings of 48 from 35 deliveries.

He was well-supported by Rahul Dravid, who brought all his experience into play in a composed knock of 44 from 39 deliveries as the duo added 72 runs in 58 deliveries for the third wicket.

Bangalore had earlier produced a disciplined bowling performance to restrict the Chennai Super Kings to 146 for five.

Chennai innings:

Matthew Hayden was back after a two-match rest, but it was Parthiv Patel who went after the bowling in the initial overs. He took an over to settle down, as just two runs came from the first over from Praveen Kumar.

The left-hander, however, made up for it in the next over by slamming Jacques Kallis for three boundaries, off short deliveries, on both sides of the wicket.

Patel then smashed another couple of boundaries in the third over to race to 23 from 15 deliveries, five boundaries included, while Hayden was three from three deliveries, as Chennai reached 26 for no loss in three overs.

For once, Hayden was a spectator to the fireworks from the other end as Patel hogged all the strike and dominated the scoring too

However, Bangalore could not keep Hayden quite for long. The Aussie got his first boundary in the fourth over off the fourth delivery he faced from Kallis.

Patel was in no mood to relent and hit another couple of boundaries off Vinay Kumar to race to 32 from 20 deliveries, inclusive of seven boundaries.

Hayden then smashed Kumble over the cover region for his second boundary to bring up Chennai's fifty in the sixth over

Hayden then heaved Vinay Kumar for a huge six over square leg but fell two deliveries later attempting another cross-batted slog. The left-hander, who made 26 from 19 deliveries, (two boundaries and a six) failed to get the distance and was caught at wide long-on. (61-1, 7)

However, by then, Chennai had got off to the desired start, the openers putting on 61 runs in seven overs.

Bangalore then made further inroads when they claimed the wicket of the high-flying Patel in the ninth over. The Indian left-hander made 36 from 27 deliveries, with seven boundaries, before he was trapped leg before wicket by Kallis. (69-2, 8.4)

Bangalore did well to restrict the scoring rate after that blazing start as just 22 runs came in four overs with Chennai reaching 74 for two at the halfway stage.

The bowlers continued to strangle Suresh Raina and Mahendra Singh Dhoni after the strategic time-out before the former broke free.

Raina clubbed a full delivery from Vinay Kumar over the covers and followed it up with a magnificent strike over midwicket for a six.

However, Kumble kept it tight from the other and the pressure eventually paid off. Raina was the third wicket to fall; he was foxed by a slower delivery from Kumar and out for 20 from 19 deliveries. (104-3, 14.1)

Dhoni focussed only on singles as big hits were shut out completely on a pitch getting increasingly slower by the over.

Three overs passed off without a boundary before Albie Morkel broke the shackles by launching Kumble over midwicket for a big six.

Dhoni tried to break free after a steady innings of 28 but could only hole out Roleof van der Merwe to the long-on fielder, who took it just inches from the boundary line.

The Chennai captain struggled to get going as he did not strike even a single boundary in his 30-ball knock. (125-4, 17.2)

Jacob Oram could not do much damage, hitting just one six, before being dismissed for 9. He tried a big heave against Vinay Kumar but got a thick outside edge that was taken by Robin Uthappa at the third man boundary. (140-5, 19.2)

Morkel (16) struck a boundary off the final delivery to take Chennai to 146 for five in their 20 overs. The innings lacked momentum at the end, with just 39 runs coming from the last five overs. However, Chennai will also fancy their chances on a pitch getting slower.

Bangalore innings:

Pandey, started of well, scoring consecutive boundaries off Morkel in the first over.

Kallis repeated the dose off Manpreet Gony in the next over before he was caught behind for 9. (17-1, 1.4)

Van der Merwe was sent in as a pinch-hitter and he survived a chance on 0, when Muttiah Muralitharan dropped an easy catch at long-off. But he fell to the very next delivery when Morkel bowled him with a yorker for 2. (22-2, 2.5)

Pandey continued his golden run with the bat, slamming Gony for three boundaries in the fourth over. He seemed at ease even against the slow bowlers as he creamed Shadab Jakati for a cracking boundary through the covers to bring up the 50-run partnership for the third wicket in just 33 deliveries.

Dravid emulated Pandey, slamming the left-arm spinner through the covers for his fourth boundary to race to 25 from 19 deliveries.

Pandey was looking comfortable on 43 from 26 deliveries, with seven boundaries, and Dravid was unbeaten on a solid 26 from 23 deliveries as Bangalore raced to 82 for two at the halfway stage.

With the two batsmen looking so comfortable, Bangalore were the favourites at this stage, needing another 65 runs from the last ten overs.

Pandey seemed in cruise control till he threw his wicket away with a reckless shot. The youngster, who made 48 from 35 deliveries, tried a wild slog sweep against Jakati but missed the ball and was bowled. (94-3, 12.3)

He did a remarkable job for Bangalore, adding 72 runs in 58 deliveries for the third wicket with Dravid, who seemed the more disappointed of the two when that wicket fell.

Dravid's knock was a revelation as he looked quite comfortable in the middle. He lofted Balaji over the covers for a boundary to take Bangalore to 110 for three after 15 overs, with 37 needed from the last five overs.

But then, against the run of play, Muttiah Muralitharan struck with the big wicket of Dravid. The former India captain made 44 from 39 deliveries (6 boundaries) but was ruled out leg before wicket when he was beaten attempting a sweep. (110-4, 15.1)

Just when the match seemed hanging in balance, Bangalore turned the tide by slamming two sixes in the 17th over, bowled by Raina.

First Ross Taylor heaved across the line for a huge six over midwicket and Virat Kohli stepped down the wicket for another big six as the equation came down to 20 from the last three overs.

It didn't matter to Kohli that Muralitharan was into his last over and he slammed another big six off the veteran in the 18th over.

Taylor continued the momentum with a cracking six over square leg to bring Bangalore closer to victory.

Kohli finished it off with a boundary through midwicket.

Bangalore reached 149 for four in 18.5 overs and win the semi-final by six wickets and set up a title clash with the Deccan Chargers.

Kohli finished unbeaten on 24 from 17 deliveries, while Taylor hit 17 from 12 deliveries as the two batsmen won it for Bangalore with an unbroken stand of 39 runs from 3.4 deliveries.

Muralitharan was once again superb with the ball, claiming one for 15, but Bangalore were always in control after Chennai's modest total.

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Harish Kotian

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