From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.34 :: NO.22 :: Jun. 02, 2011

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CRICKET / IPL DIARY

Sanga walks to a salute

The Deccan Chargers skipper, shepherding a low-scoring chase in his last match this season, brought to the fore his gentlemanly side. Over to Arun Venugopal.

PTI

Pune Warriors' Rahul Sharma gives a respectful send-off to Deccan Chargers captain Kumar Sangakkara after he was caught behind.

Kumar Sangakkara has had a frustrating time with his new franchise as Deccan Chargers' form oscillated from mediocre to dismal with alarming rapidity. After being one of the first teams to slip out of contention for the play-offs, the Chargers had plenty of pride to salvage against fellow struggler Pune Warriors. Sangakkara, shepherding a low-scoring chase in his last match this season, brought to the fore his gentlemanly side.

The former Sri Lanka skipper tried to steer a straighter one from Rahul Sharma down to third man but instead got a healthy edge to the 'keeper. Even as Uthappa exercised his vocal chords, Sanga started walking without waiting for the umpire's decision. Sharma, on his part, came up with a refreshing exhibition of sportsmanship when he stopped his celebration mid-way and saluted Sangakkara for the gesture.

Punjab dreams turn sour

Kings XI Punjab's fielding display — or the lack of it — provided a telling reminder of the time-honoured ‘catches win matches' adage. Coming on the heels of a four-match winning streak, Punjab needed a victory against Deccan Chargers to push its case for the play-offs. After Gilchrist put the opponent in, a sequence of missed run-outs and dropped chances hit his team like a car crash.

Ryan McLaren missed a run-out off the first ball of the innings while Valthaty grassed one three balls later. Shikhar Dhawan and Ravi Teja, the beneficiaries, were at the receiving end of more generosity and went on to make sizeable scores. Ryan Harris had a particularly bad day, botching two chances besides conceding 35 runs. Chawla and McLaren did their bit, chipping in with a clanger each. Gilly's woes overflowed when umpire Asad Rauf didn't refer a run-out decision, which would have gone Punjab's way, to the third umpire.

Deccan Chargers, minus skipper Sangakkara, rubbed it in with some electrifying fielding to smash Punjab's hopes. Playing with complete freedom, the team was only too happy to play party poopers. Amit Mishra picked up his second IPL hat-trick and pegged Kings XI back by several yards in its chase.

Warne's curtain call

Astral showmen never really fade away. Their end-games are surreal, of the most effulgent variety. When the star is also a master auteur, be rest assured that the peroration is designed to regale the audience. Recently, Shane Warne etched out a memorable climax for himself and how!

The much-hyped final showdown between Warne and Tendulkar ended in a stalemate with seven runs being scored off as many balls. Barring a leading edge or two, the adrenaline metre remained largely unaffected. The magician from Melbourne saved the last over of the innings for himself — a move which seemed to harmonise the two diverse prongs of tactical efficiency and playing to the gallery.

His first ball turned out to be an anti-climax as Menaria fluffed a chance at mid-on. The next delivery was no less dramatic as the ball went just over extra cover's head for four. Just when it was looking like Warne's final hurrah would end up becoming a Shakespearean tragedy, the wily fox struck in a manner he has done for years now.

PTI

Deccan Chargers' Amit Mishra(centre) celebrates with team-mates after taking a hat-trick against Kings XI Punjab.

A liberally tossed-up delivery saw Rohit Sharma hare down the track. The fizz-filled ball dipped and spun past Sharma who lost his bat in the process of flexing his muscles. There was surprisingly no extravagant celebration from Warne who merely grinned broadly. Trust the man to do the unexpected — his last ball was a full toss.

While Warnie's colleagues wanted him to lead them off the field, the 41-year-old seemed content to let them go ahead of him. He later made a stake for knighthood in his characteristic tongue-in-cheek style, “Perhaps my knighthood has been lost in the post. Sir Shane Warne — it has quite a ring to it, don't you think?”

Callum hits, Ganguly misses

Smart fielding can sometimes do you more harm than good as Callum Ferguson found out during Pune's encounter against Kolkata Knight Riders. Manoj Tiwary tried to pinch a single after dabbing one to point. Ferguson rushed in, collected the ball and fired it at the bowler's end. Result: four overthrows. Ferguson was distraught while the bowler Wayne Parnell rushed across and tried to strangle him in mock anger.

The action continued in the first ball of the very next over when Tiwary attempted a quick run. Fergie charged in again and this time found the stumps with his throw. Result? Four overthrows again. Ryder laughed uncontrollably while even captain Yuvraj couldn't resist a chuckle. Ferguson was gutted.

Callum was however third time lucky as he again found the stumps when Gambhir ran across for one. No, he didn't run the batsman out but there were no overthrows conceded as well. Ryder and Parnell were in splits. “He is like a guided missile,” chirped Harsha Bhogle on commentary. As for Ferguson, he was a very relieved man.

It wasn't all fun and frolic for Sourav Ganguly though as he followed up a blob against Deccan Chargers with a laboured 18 against his former franchise. Billed as a KKR vs Ganguly clash, the contest had a massive cloud of hype around it. The former Indian captain, with a reputation for bludgeoning slow bowlers, struggled against Shakib Al Hasan. The Bangladesh skipper saw Ganguly give the charge and shortened his length. Trying to adjust at the last moment, the batsman edged a pull. Stumper Goswami didn't make an attempt to catch the ball and Ganguly survived. The KKR skipper promptly gave Goswami an earful.

PTI

Mumbai Indians' Ambati Rayudu cannot hide his joy after hitting the winning runs against Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens.

In the 13th over, Sourav found himself stranded out of the crease after he was deceived by Shakib who pushed the ball wide. However, the batter managed to sneak a bye when Goswami missed a shy at the stumps. The end, though, was meek as Ganguly swept one straight to square leg.

Parthiv's captaincy blues

Parthiv Patel's debut as captain with Kochi Tuskers Kerala was forgettable to say the least. A dropped catch and a couple of missed stumpings ensured that Parthiv was not setting the desired example as a leader.

The diminutive wicket-keeper first muffed an edge offered by Suresh Raina. He then failed to stump Michael Hussey and Wriddhiman Saha in successive overs. The let-offs yielded 65 runs for the Chennai Super Kings. What would have hurt Parthiv more was his failure with the bat.

The 26-year-old managed six runs off seven balls while he watched his team go down by 11 runs. There were a few bright spots, however, in Patel's captaincy. Despite Raina hitting Sreesanth for six, four, and six in succession, Parthiv refused to station a long-on. The bold move paid dividends as Raina was caught at mid-on the very next ball.

At the post-match press conference, the Tuskers captain was surprisingly candid. He admitted that the team's poor showing was due to a “drop in intensity” in a nothing-to-lose game.

Rayudu does a Miandad

Gautam Gambhir was devastated, wearing the look of a child robbed of his bonbons. The Kolkata skipper couldn't be faulted for he was relegated to the role of a mute witness while James Franklin and Ambati Rayudu got away with larceny. For most part of the game, Kolkata looked like it had sealed a Champions League spot but the cruel twist came late and from least expected quarters.

Keiron Pollard was dismissed for 18, ironically by Balaji, and things were all but over. What, however, proved to be a minor turning point was the needless direct hit by Goswami after the batsman was home and Rayudu took the extra run leaving Franklin on strike for the last over.

Twenty one runs off six balls still seemed a long shot and Balaji was expected to nail it. First ball: full toss, edge, four. Ball number two: top edged pull over the 'keeper's head, four. Third delivery: another full toss, this time crashed through covers for a boundary. Nine off three now, another full toss outside off, edged through third man for four. Some respite off the penultimate delivery: single to cover. Last ball, four to win, hectic mini-conferences. Balaji served up a high full-toss on middle and Rayudu rekindled the Miandad legend with a swing over square leg for maximum. Later, he said that he was pretty relaxed. “I was just blank, anywhere he bowls I thought I could hit a boundary.” Franklin meanwhile, understated as ever, coolly walked away with the Man-of-the-Match award.



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