(The Times Of India)
Right through the first season of the IPL, the constant refrain in the Deccan Chargers’ camp was that the domestic players were not pulling their weight.
It all came together nicely in South Africa, where they triumphed. In the third season, they finished fourth.
The start of the latest edition presented a new problem. The domestic players showed intent and chipped in handily but the overseas players failed to join the party as they squandered a rollicking start to settle for a below-par 137 after Rajasthan Royals skipper Shane Warne put them in to bat.
The middle-order collapse proved crucial when Chargers’ top draw Pragyan Ojha leaked 11 runs in the first over. Playing for the Royals, Rahul Dravid was all calm and assurance during the chase while his opening partner Amit Paunikar went on the attack mode before Sangakkara flung himself to his right to come up with a brilliant catch off spearhead Dale Steyn.
The South African, the pick of the Chargers’ attack with 2/18, had the measure of Dravid (28; 35b) too, but by then Royals had cruised to 83 in 12.5 overs courtesy a second-wicket partnership of 52. From then on it was just a case of keeping a clear head. Botha (67 not out; 47b, 8×4, 1×6) and Ross Taylor (21 not out; 14b, 1×4, 2×6) showed how it is done with an unbroken 58-run stand for the third wicket, during which they whittled the requirement down to 45 from the last five overs. They ended at 141/2, completing the formalities of an eight-wicket win with seven deliveries to spare.
Chargers have only themselves to blame for their continued poor run at the venue, where they have lost all their IPL-I (2008) and Champions League matches dating back to October 2009. Shikhar Dhawan (24; 15b, 3×4, 1×6) and Ishank Jaggi 24 (28b, 3×4) hurtled along like a house on fire but man of the match Siddarth Trivedi (3/15) changed the game.
He got rid of Sangakkara and that blow right after Dhawan fell going for another big one set the Chargers back. Ever the master, Warne (2/21) tightened the screws, snaring JP Duminy and Jaggi. That Chargers managed so much despite Amit Singh (3/35) cashing in at the death was due to Daniel Christian (26; 19b, 1×4, 2×6) and Ravi Teja, who essayed a delightful 28 (20b, 2×4, 1×6).
Royals host Delhi Daredevils on April 12 while Chargers will have to get their act together before their next home game against Royal Challengers Bangalore on April 14, but before that they have the small matter of dealing with Kolkata Knight Riders in Kolkata on April 11.