Yuvraj Singh was on hand to cheer Pune Warriors, but they gave him little to shout about as Deccan Chargers eased to their first win of IPL 2012 in the absence of their most likely match-winner, Dale Steyn. There was no last-over heartbreak that has been such a familiar feeling for Chargers this season, after $1.1m-rated Cameron Whitemade his first significant
contribution to power them to 177.
Warriors made a reasonable start to their chase, but bungled it in the middle of the innings. Though Jesse Ryder made his fifth single-digit score of the season, first Manish Pandey and Sourav Ganguly, and then Ganguly and Robin Uthappa found the boundary frequently to keep pace with the asking rate.
In the 10th over, Ganguly was even put down by Chargers’ best fielder, JP Duminy, who managed to spill a straightforward chance at backward point. It didn’t prove too costly, though, as four deliveries later, Ganguly slapped a short ball to cover where substitute Daniel Harris held on to a sharp chance.
That brought together Uthappa and Marlon Samuels, neither of whom were able to play the big hits. They seemed more intent on finding the cheeky single, than the boundary the situation demanded. The bowling wasn’t unhittable, but the pair could score only 15 off the next three overs, and in little more than ten minutes the required-rate ratcheted from 10.50 to nearly 13.
Then debutant Ashish Reddy bowled the over that more or less killed the game. Uthappa realised the need to get a move on, and decided to target Reddy. He went for an over-ambitious shot – looking to paddle a delivery from several feet outside off. He connected with the ball, but only well enough to deflect it on to leg stump. Five deliveries later, Samuels swung a catch to Sangakkara at cover. The fist-pumping celebration from Sangakkara indicated how close Chargers felt they were to victory. Steven Smith, Warriors’ designated finisher, walked in with his team needing 86 off the last six overs, a task which proved beyond him.
While Smith has been doing all he can at the IPL to revive his career, White hasn’t had much of an opportunity so far. He got his chance to bat early today as the openers, Shikhar Dhawan and Parthiv Patel, fell within the Powerplay after providing a cracking start. Those wickets stalled Chargers as White and Kumar Sangakkara, who demoted himself to No. 3, mostly picked up singles for the next few overs. Chargers seemed to find themselves in a familiar muddle at 83 for 3 in the 12th over when legspinner Rahul Sharma knocked over Sangakkara’s middle stump, sending off the batsman with a flying kiss.
White had been pottering along at a run-a-ball till then, but then switched to boundary-hitting mode. Rahul Sharma was clobbered for a couple of fours, and when a near yorker from Alfonso Thomas was powered to the straight boundary, his first fifty came up. Rahul Sharma was taken apart in another over of ferocious straight hitting that yielded 19.
Thoughts of a hundred would have crossed White’s mind but he holed out in the 18th over to deep cover. That sucked the momentum out of the innings – there were no more boundaries – and Chargers ended at least 10 shorter than they would have expected when White was in top gear. That wasn’t enough to prevent their first win, though, and Pune slumped to their fourth loss in five matches.