Deccan Chargers are starting to run amok in the IPL table with all the subtlety of the bull mascot on their crest. Coming off a five-game losing streak, the defending champions shocked Royal Challengers Bangalore in their last game and yesterday they bulldozed Chennai Super Kings in a six-wicket victory in Nagpur to throw the race to the final four wide open.
It was a clinical performance with both ball and bat. First the Chargers restricted the visitors to 138 for eight and then cruised past the target in 19.1 overs, with Tirumalasetti Suman (55) and Andrew Symonds (27), the heroes of the win in Bangalore, keeping their act going. The win leaves both teams needing to win their last three matches to make the semi-finals and Adam Gilchrist, the Deccan captain, was confident his players can script a five-match winning streak to reach the last four.
"There is no other option," said Gilchrist at the post-match TV interview. "So we have to just go out there and win. "It's just an amazing competition. We win here and we are in a similar position to so many others. We are still in seventh position, but we are one win away from second and very close to being the leaders. So it's a tight competition and it's making great viewing. "We were playing pretty much in a situation where we can't lose a game [after five consecutive defeats]. The guys have gone out there and done the job."
After restricting Matthew Hayden and Murali Vijay to just 41 from the first five overs, the Chargers, who have the worst bowling record in the final quarter of the innings, allowed Chennai only 28 runs in the last five overs and took four wickets to seal the victory. "We bowled pretty well," said Ryan Harris in the post-match TV interview. Harris led the attack with three for 18 and picked up a rare man-of-the-match award for a bowler. "We've bowled pretty well up to about the six to eight overs, but in the last four overs we have let ourselves down," he said. "We have talked about it over the last couple of days and we got it right this time. Our main objective was to contain in those last four overs and the plans worked."
Among the Chennai batsmen, only Suresh Raina (52) provided any resistance and the last seven batsmen had single-digit scores. The highest partnership was the opening one of 41 runs and Gilchrist broke that with a sharp catch, standing up to Harmeet Singh, to get rid of Hayden, his former one-day international opening partner for Australia, and it was all downhill from there. Suman made sure Deccan did not suffer a similar fate with another steady innings after the dismissal of Gilchrist and Monish Mishra in the fifth over.
"It has been a pleasure batting well, especially from the last game. "I have been enjoying going top of the order and getting some runs," Suman said in the post-match TV interview. * Compiled by Ahmed Rizvi