Chargers’ misery complete

Suresh Raina with the Man of the Match award.-G. KRISHNASWAMY

The man behind Chennai Super Kings’ march into the semi-finals was Suresh Raina, whose majestic knock carried his team comfortably past Deccan Chargers. Over to Abhijit Sen Gupta.

Deccan Chargers failed to win even a single match on its home turf at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium at Uppal, Hyderabad, in the DLF-IPL. The dismal performance of the team, which was among the favourites before the tournament started, was inexplicable. The Hyderabad outfit had a very strong batting line-up and even though Andrew Symonds left halfway through the tournament, on paper the Chargers’ batting still looked strong enough with the presence of Adam Gi lchrist, Herschelle Gibbs, Shahid Afridi, Scott Styris and Rohit Sharma supported by local lads Venugopal Rao and Ravi Teja.

Its bowling was considered to be less strong but nevertheless was not entirely inexperienced since it had Chaminda Vaas, Nuwan Zoysa, R. P. Singh and Shahid Afridi.

So what really went wrong for Deccan Chargers?

Gilchrist himself was at a loss to explain the team’s horrendous performance match after match. The batting, touted as the team’s strong point, failed miserably. To top it all, V. V. S. Laxman suffered a hairline fracture on his wrist and had to pull out midway through the tournament. Gilchrist took over as captain and although the Aussie planned and prepared meticulously, Chargers failed to take off. In its last match against Chennai Super Kings, Chargers lost tamely yet again.

Opting to bat first, Deccan Chargers posted a moderate 147 for eight in 20 overs, thanks to a 76-run fourth-wicket stand between Venugopal Rao (46) and D. Ravi Teja (40).

Chennai Super Kings began the chase on a sedate note. Chargers got the breakthrough soon when Stephen Fleming nicked Vijay Kumar into Gilchrist’s gloves. However, helped by some solid batting by its middle order, the Chennai team gained the upper hand. The man behind Super Kings’ victory was Suresh Raina whose unbeaten 54 helped the team to register a seven-wicket victory and enter the semi-finals. Contributing his bit with a useful 37 was skipper M. S. Dhoni. Raina showed glimpses of his form when he easily picked the gaps in the field with his exquisite shots.

Knowing that his bowling resources were limited (Vaas and Zoysa were not in the playing XI), Gilchrist chose to experiment by introducing Sarvesh Kumar into the attack after Patel and Raina had got the measure of the main bowlers. Sarvesh got the breakthrough when he had Patel punching the ball hard into the hands of Afridi at mid-off.

From 41 for one in five overs, the Chennai team slowed down to 72 for two in 10 overs. Pragyan Ojha and Scott Styris maintained a tidy line to keep the batsmen quiet. But later Dhoni along with Raina began plundering runs and the stand yielded 55 valuable runs. But when Dhoni departed, caught by Gibbs at long-on, Chennai Super Kings still needed 33 from 26 balls. But eventually Raina guided the team home with his determined batting.

THE SCORES

Deccan Chargers v Chennai Super Kings, Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad, May 27, 2008.

Result: Chennai Super Kings won by seven wickets.

Deccan Chargers 147 for eight in 20 overs (Venugopal Rao 46, Ravi Teja 40, Balaji two for 34) lost to Chennai Super Kings 148 for three in 19.2 overs (S. Raina 54 not out, M. S. Dhoni 37).