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The Deccan Chargers pulled up their socks to drive a dagger through Rajasthan's play-off hopes with a 5 wicket win to end the Hyderabad curse today. In a must win clash, Rajasthan's batting unit came a cropper, stumbling to an under par 126-8 in 20 overs. Rahul Dravid saved the blushes for the Royals with a gritty 39 on a lively pitch. Boundaries were like a mirage in a desert for the Royals. Amit Mishra (2-20) and Dale Steyn(2-16) delivered stifling spells to plot the Royals' demise and push Deccan's insipid fielding to the shade. In pursuit of a gettable target, Shikhar Dhawan(26) and Akshath Reddy(42) laid an ideal launch pad for the Chargers with a stroke filled 63 run stand. Following a mini middle overs collapse, the other Reddy, Ashish finished the game via back to back fours with 8 balls to spare. Whilst the Chargers broke their home jinx to register only their second victory at the Rajiv Gandhi international stadium, the Royals crashed out of the race for the play-offs.
The perennial underdogs of the league, the Rajasthan Royals, very much in contention for the play-offs, locked horns with the basement dwelling Deccan Chargers at Hyderabad as firm favorites. Considering the log jam in the middle of the points table, the Royals had to win their remaining two games to march to the knock-out stages. The already ousted Deccan Chargers were not only looking to play party-poopers but were also determined to restore a bit of damaged pride.
The news in the Deccan camp was that Kumar Sangakkara was 'rested' and Cameron White took over the captaincy from the Lankan lion. Chris Lynn, the Brisbane Heat batsman was scheduled to make his IPL debut for the hosts. The other overseas swap was JP Duminy coming in at the expense of Dan Christian. The suspension handed out to TP Sudhindra meant that Veer Pratap Singh was back into the line up. The Royals, meanwhile, made just the solitary change with Owais Shah replacing the injured Brad Hodge.The Rajasthan skipper, Rahul Dravid began on an auspicious note by winning the toss and sticking to his bat first strategy.
The first over itself exposed Deccan's school boy fielding with the gloveman, Parthiv Patel spilling a sitter to gift Ajinkya Rahane an early life. Thankfully for the Chargers, Dale Steyn in the following over dismissed the supremely talented batsman to ensure that the drop did not prove to be costly. Steyn, the South African express, swung the ball brilliantly and pushed Rajasthan onto the backfoot. The 28-year old conceded only 8 from his first two overs. The Chargers floored two more catches just before the conclusion of the powerplay to provide conclusive proof of why they were languishing at the rock-bottom of the points table. Making hay, Rahul Dravid and the one drop batsman Shane Watson helped themselves to a few fours. Watson launched the first six of the evening via a thunderous blow over Manpreet Gony's head. 'The Wall' settled down nicely and illustrated resolute, reassuring cricket. RR were reasonably placed at 41-1 in 6 overs.
Amit Mishra though had other ideas as the Indian legspinner struck twice in his first two overs to put Deccan ahead in the game, despite their shoddy fielding. Whilst Watson (13) perished to a dream delivery that pitched on middle, and spun prodigiously to clip the off-stump, Stuart Binny(7) was undone by the wrong-un.
An undeterred Dravid though cut and pulled with conviction to keep the scorecard moving, though not at the desired pace. However, his solid essay was cut short by Gony in the 12th over for 39. Debutant Lynn just about managed to latch onto the catch.
The Chargers were adept at sneaking in quiet overs to mount the pressure on the inaugural IPL champions. Left with no option, Shah and Ashok Menaria nudged the ball around to shepherd the Royals to 93-4 in 15 overs without any further hiccups. Meanwhile, the mean and miserly Mishra capped off his terrific spell with figures of 2-20. Needless to say, The need of the hour for the Royals was some power-hitting.
After another fiery over from Steyn, Menaria loosened the shackles with a biggie off rookie Ashish Reddy. Moments later, Veer Pratap Singh added his name to the wickets column by removing the southpaw for a slightly better than a run-a-ball 20.
Owais Shah finally got going with a whack past square leg. Believe it or not, the English cricketer needed 24 balls to pick up his first boundary. Steyn had his compatriot, Johan Botha (3) caught and bowled in the last over of his telling spell (2-16). The slide continued for the Royals as they lost Shreevats Goswami (3) and Shah (28) off the last two deliveries of the innings. The lusty hits failed to materialize as the Royals limped to an underwhelming 126-8 in 20 overs.
Shikhar Dhawan, Deccan's leading run-scorer of this season, kick-started the chase in style with a towering straight six off Ajit Chandila. Dhawan was at his fluent best, his shots laced with sublime placement and creamy elegance. His new partner, Akshath Reddy, not to be left behind also joined the act. His wristy flick off Watson had that Caribbean touch to it. RR's spearhead, Shaun Tait was guilty of being wayward and leaked 18 from his first two overs.
Reddy decided to stamp his authority on Botha and used his feet to good effect to manufacture 14 from the spinner's first over. The pair did a commendable job to thwart Royals' plans for early wickets. Chants of ' Go Chargers' reverberated the Rajiv Gandhi international stadium as the hosts were cruising at 62-0 in 8 overs.
Against the run of play, Botha forced Dhawan back to the hutch for 26. JP Duminy and Reddy though resorted to common sense cricket, accepting the ones and twos on offer.
A couple of overs later, Siddarth Trivedi hoodwinked Reddy with his slower ball. The local lad's miscue was well grasped by Shah at mid-off. The very next over, Chandila consumed White for 1 to throw up a lifeline to the Royals.
Lynn (6) also did not trouble the scorers much and holed out in the deep. The Royals squeezed in a volley of dots to up the asking rate to a run-a-ball.
With the equation reading 17 from 3 overs, Pathiv Patel orchestrated a crucial four via a delicate late cut off Stuart Binny to ease the nerves in the Deccan dug out. There was a another twist in the tale though as Duminy fell prey to a needless lofted shot having contributed 24 to the team's cause. The other Reddy, Ashish(10*) prevented Deccan from choking and closed out the game with two fours on the trot.
The Royals will be in action for one final time this season against the Mumbai Indians infront of their home crowd at the Sawai Mansingh stadium on Sunday. The Chargers will be aiming for a repeat showing to halt Bangalore's IPL campaign and add another triumph to their kitty in an early kick-off at Hyderabad on the same day.
DC: S Dhawan, P Patel(wk), C Lynn, C White(c), JP Duminy, PA Reddy, A Reddy, D Steyn, A Mishra, VP Singh, MS Gony.
RR: R Dravid(c), A Rahane, S Watson, O Shah, A Menaria, S Binny, J Botha, S Goswami(wk), A Chandila, S Trivedi, S Tait.
Rajasthan Royals 126-8 (20 overs, 6.30 rpo)
R Dravid 39(36) D Steyn 2-16
O Shah 28(32) A Mishra 2-20
Deccan Chargers 128-5 (18.4 overs, 6.85 rpo)
PA Reddy 42(45) S Trivedi 2-20
S Dhawan 26(24) S Binny 1-8
DC win by 5 wickets with 8 balls to spare.
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