The 3rd place playoff game between the Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Deccan Chargers at the D.Y.Patil stadium in Mumbai, had more bearings on the outcome than to being just a curtain-raiser to the final the IPL 2010 tournament between the Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings. The winner of the game qualified for the champions league, pitting the finalists of the IPL, and the 3rd place team, with winners of domestic T20 competitions from other countries. So, it was a little surprising how flat the Deccan Chargers’ effort was, in the game, considering the benefits of winning it.
Gilly won the toss and chose to bat.The pitch that was being used for the game was the one that was used for the MI-RCB semifinal game earlier in the week, and therefore, RCB had a definite edge on having bowled on it so recently. RCB came out with a plan similar to the one they employed in the IPL 2009 final against the Deccan Chargers. Kumble, – with all the guile that only comes to someone who is termed a leg spinner, but does not turn the too much and still is very, very effective and successful – got the linchpin of the DC batting line up, their captain Gilly, with a slow dipping full toss. With the new ball, moving around a bit off the pitch and in the air, it was going to be a difficult proposition for the batsmen to go bang-bang.
Throughout this year’s tournament, the D.Y.Patil pitches have provided something for the bowlers. They are not flat, concrete pitches where the batsmen tee off, from the get go. It has shown that the batsmen need to take their time to settle in, keep a decent run rate (6-7) and go bonkers in the last 5-6 overs. The goal should have been, for the DC, to conserve wickets. But alas, that wasn’t to be. Praveen Kumar took out Monish Mishra with a ball that moved in to catch him in front. Rohit Sharma getting out to an ill-advised pull (off the front foot, no less) to a fuller length delivery and Andrew Symonds (given a life by Steyn at deep fine leg off a really good bouncer by PK) failed to capitalize and let Steyn make amends for his mistake, by tickling one behind. With the pillars of DC batting gone, it was more a question of total survival for DC and were bundled out for a paltry 82. The last 4 wickets fell without adding a run – going from 82-6 to 82-10 in a matter of 3 overs.
The manner in which DC just laid low was extremely surprising. This team showed a lot of resilience in getting 5 wins in a row, to make the semifinals. Gilchrist had done a wonderful job, along with their coach Darren Lehmann, to instill self-belief in their players, and managed to win it all last year. Its a very creditable accomplishment to get to the semifinals again this year, but with a spot in the Champions League beckoning, their no-show today was unbelievable.
RCB took their time and coasted to the 83 runs required, losing in the process only the wicket of Jacque Kallis. In the process, Kallis became the leading run scorer of the 2010 tournament, overtaking Sachin Tendulkar. On SRT’s 37th birthday. Nice birthday gift Jacques! Dravid hit a few delicate square cuts off the spinners and Kevein Pietersen some lusty blows to book their ticket to Champions league.
Earlier in the day, my former room mate from Penn State, now in Mumbai, told me that he was gonna be going to the game. He has gone to IPL games during the previous edition of the IPL tournament (2008). The 2009 tournament was moved to South Africa, if you remember. He was mighty pissed at how pathetic the game was. Total waste of time and money. He should send a expense report to the DC management and request reimbursement!