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The Deccan Chargers finally broke their excruciatingly painful 6 match win-less streak with a morale boosting 18 run victory over a ragged Pune outfit in their own backyard. Whist the Chargers got on board, the Pune Warriors dropped down to 6th place in the points table. The key to Deccan's success was that they played as a team and fired in unison. The Chargers ratified Kumar Sangakkara's decision to bat first by posting a formidable total of 177-4. Cameron White, who was purchased at a whooping price of $1.1 million last year finally rumbled back to form, clobbering a 46-ball 78. The Australian's muscle straight hits left the Warriors bloodied and bruised. In pursuit of 178, Pune never really got going and lost wickets at regular intervals. Debutant Ashish Reddy and Rusty Theron snapped up two wickets apiece to derail the Warriors' chase.
The Pune Warriors, determined to put their heavy loss against Delhi behind them, hosted the the bottom placed Deccan Chargers at the gorgeous Subrata Roy Sahara stadium on Thursday night. The presence of the inspirational Yuvraj Singh, who recently overcame cancer after the successful completion of chemotherapy, in the dressing room indeed lifted the spirits of the Warriors.The flip of the coin went Deccan's way and Kumar Sangakkara elected to bat first on a pitch that was likely to get slower as the game progressed. While Pune replaced the unfortunate Luke Wright with Marlon Samuels, there was a lot of chopping and changing in the Deccan line-up. Their strike bowler Dale Steyn made way for fellow South African, Rusty Theron. Anand Rajan and Veer Pratap Singh were also left out to accomodate Ashish Reddy and Manpreet Gony. This game held great significance for the Warriors because a victory would elevate them to the second spot on the points table.
Deccan's policy of change also extended to their top order as Parthiv Patel walked out to the middle with Shikhar Dhawan which meant that Sangakkara bumped himself down the order. The tactic reaped instant success as the Indian duo carved out three eye-catching fours off Ashish Nehra in the very first over with the pick of them being Dhawan's cover drive. Though Alfonso Thomas snuck in a quiet second over, Marlon Samuels conceded the first maximum of the evening to Dhawan in the following over. Just when it appeared to be smooth sailing for the Chargers, a suicidal run undid all the good work as Deccan's leading run-scorer of this season fell for 16. Soon after, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar united little Pathiv (24) with Dhawan. The action-packed powerplay drew to a close at 50-2.
The loss of their openers in quick succession put Deccan under severe pressure. Kumar Sangakkara and Cameron White took their own sweet time to settle down as the momentum drifted towards Pune. The spin twins, Rahul Sharma and Marlon Samuels restricted runs to a minimum. In an attempt to up the tempo, the Australian allrounder decided to play some attacking shots. White hit his way back to form and fetched the Chargers a few precious boundaries. The 28-year old's hoick over mid-wicket off Rahul Sharma underlined the man's power and placement. Meanwhile, Sanga's painstaking stay at the crease concluded for 12 when Ankit Sharma uprooted the southpaw's middle stump in the 12th over.
Joining hands with Jean Paul Duminy, White rang in the three figure mark. The blond Victorian reached his maiden IPL half-century in style by means of an arrogant straight drive. At 122-3 in 15 overs, DC were looking to construct some tall sky-scrapers.
White went berserk in the next over hammering 2 sixes and a four off Rahul Sharma. The usually frugal leggie completed his quota with poor figures of 1-39. The other bowlers too began to experience the same fate with White reigning supreme. JP Duminy too joined the fun with a biggie straight over the head of Samuels. However, 2 balls later the West Indian's quicker one caused White to hole out in the deep for an entertaining 46-ball 78. The Chargers scored just 15 runs though off the final 2 overs but still stacked up a healthy total of 177-4.
Anticipating plenty of turn on offer, Sangakkara began DC's defence with two spinners in Ankit Sharma and JP Duminy. They kept things tidy and compelled Jesse Ryder and Manish Pandey to earn their runs. Sharma stuck in his second over to have the dangerous Ryder(7) caught at short-midwicket. Thankfully for Pune, Pandey provided Pune the kick-start they desperately needed with a whack over long on in the 4th over. While Pandey exuded confidence, Sourav Ganguly welcomed Manpreet Gony back to the IPL with a majestic six over long on. Rusty Theron, widely regarded as a T20 specialist, created an impact as early as his first over, dismissing Pandey for 21. Pune had made 44 runs in 6 overs for the loss of their opening batsmen.
Dada and Robin Uthappa were positive right from the get-go and ensured that the innings did not stagnate. The pair took a special liking to Amit Mishra, who was all over the place. Mishra leaked 21 runs from his first couple of overs. Ganguly, lucky to be granted a life on 22 failed to cash in and added only one more run to his kitty before he was caught safely by Daniel Harris, who was on the field for White.
The innings did stagnate following Ganguly's departure and the required rate jumped up to above 12. To make matters worse, Uthappa went into his shell once again, while Samuels' struggle for runs continued. Uthappa (29), trying to play a fancy scoop succomed to debutant Ashish Reddy in the 14th over. Samuels also exited in the same over to leave the hosts dead and buried at 91-5.
Steve Smith, Pune's star performer of the IPL, got into the act straightaway, smacking a couple of meaty blows. But Theron came back strongly to force Smith back to the hutch for 26 at an amazing strike rate of 200. The result was a foregone conclusion by then, and though Mithun Manhas and Alfonso Thomas (12) threw caution to the wind, all it did was to salvage some respectability to their innings. Pune fell short by 18 runs to hand Deccan their first victory of this season.
Buoyed by this confidence boosting victory, the Chargers would seek a big turnaround in their fortunes. The resurgent Chargers will next travel to Mumbai to clash with Harbhajan's merry men on Sunday, April 29. In contrast, the Warriors will be itching for instant revenge when they lock horns with Deccan in the return fixture at the Barabati stadium in Cuttack on Tuesday, 1st May.
PW: M Pandey, J Ryder, S Ganguly(c), R Uthappa(wk), M Manhas, M Samuels, S Smith, A Thomas, B Kumar, R Sharma, A Nehra
DC: K Sangakkara(c), S Dhawan, P Patel(wk), C White, JP Duminy, I Jaggi, A Sharma, R Theron, A Ashish Reddy, M Gony, A Mishra
Deccan Chargers 177-4 (20 overs,8.85 rpo)
C White 78(46) B Kumar 1-33
JP Duminy 26(24) R Sharma 1-39
Pune Warriors 159-7 (20 overs, 7.95 rpo)
R Uthappa 29(27) A Reddy 2-32
S Smith 26(13) R Theron 2-37
Deccan win by 18 runs
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