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Bangalore Royal Challengers Sneak Home In Thriller

By on May 14, 2009

Bangalore Royal Challengers

Bangalore Royal Challengers 132 for 8 (Taylor 46, Kohli 38) beat Chennai Super Kings 129 (Hayden 60, Kumble 2-12) by two wickets…

Bangalore Royal Challengers beat Chennai Super Kings in a nail-biter to keep their semi-final hopes alive. They were chasing only 130 but an early collapse and tight bowling from Chennai meant the required run-rate soared before a six from Praveen Kumar in the penultimate over brought them back and they won with two balls to spare.

An innings of two halves began with another brutal Matthew Hayden knock – 60 off 38 balls – before Chennai Super Kings dissolved in the face of some tight Bangalore bowling, losing their last six wickets for 28 runs and ending with an under-par 129.

Hayden’s early power-hitting had managed to keep Chennai on track for a good score after they lost two wickets inside the Powerplay, the run-rate approaching nine an over. Bangalore’s bowlers took control after the strategy break, adding pressure to the fall of wickets by conceding only singles. Chennai crossed 100 in the 13th over but managed only 28 more in the next seven. The noose was tightened by Anil Kumble and Jacques Kallis – chiefly responsible for stemming the run flow with two wickets in consecutive overs, one of them a maiden.

Kumble opened for Bangalore with a tight over, conceding only four runs. But his effort was undone in the next two – bowled by R Vinay Kumar and Praveen Kumar – that went for 28 runs. Hayden looked to mess up the fast bowlers’ lines by repeatedly stepping out and swatting to the ball for boundaries over the fielders. He pulled, flicked and drove Vinay for fours; hammered a short and wide delivery from Praveen over extra cover for four before pulling him for a flat six off a delivery pitched outside off.

Kallis’ entry into the attack gave Bangalore some respite from the manic hitting. After playing out two dot balls, M Vijay tried to hook a short one but could not get enough of the bat on it and was caught by Robin Uthappa at fine leg. Kallis then bowled three consecutive short balls to the new batsman Suresh Raina, who fended off the first one, defended the next and played and missed the final. He eventually also fell to the short ball but not before hitting two successive fours off Praveen and cutting Kallis for another four. He had scored 13 off nine balls when Kallis once again dug it short, this time on leg stump, into Raina’s body. Raina hopped on his toes and pushed the ball away from his body to a diving Roelof van der Merwe at midwicket.

Chennai had scored 52 in the Powerplay overs, and Hayden and MS Dhoni added 20 more in the next four over as Kumble, Kallis and van der Merwe kept it tight. Kallis bowled his quota on the trot and finished with 4-1-18-2. He mixed the shorter balls with fuller deliveries and used a short leg to keep Dhoni quiet.

Even so, Dhoni and Hayden kept the run-rate over six an over. Dhoni picked the singles and Hayden the boundaries. He reached his fifty with a clever reverse-paddle to third man.

It began to unravel when Dhoni fell, trying to go for a big shot, as van der Merwe pulled off a stunning catch off his own bowling by diving to his wrong side. But the fall of wickets hadn’t affected Hayden’s batting one bit: he launched van der Merwe for a six over his head one ball after Dhoni’s wicket. But he fell in the next over by Kumble, when he mistimed a pull and was caught by at the boundary by Vinay Kumar. After that the other bowlers joined in tightening that noose: van der Merwe conceded three in his final over, B Akhil 2 off his first, Vinay Kumar and Praveen picked up a wicket each, while Kumble ended S Badrinath’s agonising nine-ball 2.

Bangalore need to win this game to stay in contention for the semis and their bowlers gave them the edge they needed.

Nishi Narayanan is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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