Home jinx broken

Rahul Dravid with his most successful bowler of the day, Praveen Kumar.-K. BHAGYA PRAKASH

Kumble held his nerve in the final over for the Challengers as the Chargers fell short by three runs. K. C. Vijaya Kumar reports.

The fireworks that lit up the Bangalore skies on that Saturday night also reflected on Rahul Dravid’s smiling visage. “It is a big relief. We finally won a game in Bangalore,” the skipper said after Royal Challengers, Bangalore snatched a three-run victory over Deccan Chargers at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium.

Prior to the humdinger, Royal Challengers had suffered three losses at home and Dravid and Co., were left wondering at the hometown jinx. Thankfully for them in a last over in which 20 runs were required by Deccan Chargers, Sanjay Bangar clubbed Anil Kumble for two sixes, but ran out of steam along with his partner Arjun Yadav in the final two deliveries. Chasing Royal Challengers’ 156, Deccan Chargers scored 153 for six in 20 overs.

For Deccan Chargers’ skipper V. V. S. Laxman, the disappointment was acute, especially after his 52 (44b, 7x4) and a 96-run third-wicket partnership with an assured Rohit Sharma (57, 42b, 5x4, 3x6), hinted at a victory path after Adam Gilchrist and Herschelle Gibbs perished early. “Matches are not played on paper,” Laxman said later when probed on why his team, despite the presence of match-winners like Gilchrist, Gibbs and Shahid Afridi, has just one victory from six matches.

Earlier, when the lights came on, Laxman and Rohit added their share of glitter as they scored with ease. Laxman with his usual touch of magic and genius, kept finding the fence with minimum fuss and even won his mini-duel with Kumble, while Rohit, found even non-existent gaps much akin to a Mumbaikar’s penchant for finding space in crowded commuter trains.

Rohit steered Jacques Kallis for four past a rooted short third-man and then lofted Kumble and pulled Praveen Kumar.

The Deccan Chargers were on a merry roll before Rohit succumbed to Kallis in the 17th over and then with Praveen scalping Laxman and Steyn sprinting and diving forward to pouch Afridi inches off the turf, it all boiled down to Kumble’s final over in which he, as Dravid said, “held his nerve” to help Royal Challengers notch its hard-fought second victory from six matches. The seam trio of Zaheer, Steyn and Praveen also bowled well to scuttle the chase.

Earlier, Royal Challengers found its runs through a 72-run second-wicket partnership between opener Wasim Jaffer (44) and Virat Kohli (38). Jaffer bled the rival attack with his elegant touch and Dravid later praised the opener, who is often stereotyped as a ‘Test’ opener not fit for the frenetic shorter format.

Kohli meanwhile stood up on his toes to cut R. P. Singh and hoisted Bangar and Pragyan Ojha over the ropes. The duo’s dismissals made the innings wobble a bit before Dravid deposited Scott Styris twice into the stands in the final over to help his side finish with 156 for eight in 20 overs. In the end, it proved adequate.

THE SCORES

Royal Challengers, Bangalore v Deccan Chargers, M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore, May 3, 2008.

Result: Royal Challengers, Bangalore won by three runs.

Royal Challengers, Bangalore 156 for eight in 20 overs (W. Jaffer 44, V. Kohli 38, R. Dravid 26, R. P. Singh 3-41, P. Ojha 2-28) beat Deccan Chargers 153 for six in 20 overs (V. Laxman 52, R. Sharma 57, Zaheer 2-24, Praveen Kumar 3-23).