Deccan Chargers won only their second game of this season’s IPL, with a belligerent partnership between Kumar Sangakkara and Cameron White ensuring a daunting target of 187 that proved to be more than enough for Pune Warriors. The visitors would have entertained some hopes while Michael Clarke and Sourav Ganguly were at the crease, with Deccan’s sloppy fielding also helping their cause, but they eventually fell short by 13 runs in Cuttack on Tuesday to stay third from bottom in the points table after their third successive defeat.
Just like Deccan earlier, Pune too lost a wicket off their very first delivery, Manish Pandey making a hasty return after being caught at mid-on off Ankit Sharma. However, Clarke – playing his first game of the season – and Ganguly – who came up the order – put on a 90-run partnership to keep their side in the chase, although their slow run-rate eventually hurt their chances. Dale Steyn was especially targeted, and he went wicketless for 46.
Deccan have fielded poorly throughout the tournament, and missed catches and run-outs featured in this game as well. Clarke (41) thought he had benefited when Shikhar Dhawan dropped him at point, but Amit Mishra threw to the wicketkeeper with the Australian batsman well short of the crease. Ganguly (45) was caught at cover off Dhawan in the very next over much to his obvious frustration, and although Steven Smith (47 not out) and Robin Uthappa (26) tried to keep Deccan going, in the end the total proved to be too big an ask as Pune only managed 173 for 5.
It was a result that had scarcely looked possible when Deccan had been reduced to 26 for 2 after 5 overs, after having got off to the worst possible start when Parthiv Patel was bowled by Marlon Samuels off the first ball of the innings. Wayne Parnell started with a maiden at the other end, before Bhuvneshwar Kumar knocked out Dhawan’s middle stump after the Indian left-hander had got the home side underway with a couple of streaky boundaries.
Deccan could have been in further trouble in the very next over, but Pune wicketkeeper Uthappa put down a simple chance and White survived. And the Australian, who had hit a match-winning 46-ball 78 in the previous game against the same opponents, made Pune pay once more. Skipper Sangakkara, who had dropped himself for the previous game against Mumbai Indians, also struck form at the right time, and together their 157-run partnership – the highest for the third wicket in the IPL – turned things around for the beleaguered Deccan side.
Their start was understandably cautious as they looked to rebuild the innings, with only five boundaries coming between the 6th and 14th over. At that time Deccan were 91 for 2, scoring at a little over six runs an over, perhaps aiming for a par total of 140-plus. Sangakkara and White had other ideas, however. Having laid the platform, the two launched a blistering counter-attack from there on, and an incredible 95 runs came off the final six overs as Deccan reached 186 for 4, a total even the home side themselves would not have expected when they won the toss.
The carnage began in the 15th over when the previously excellent Samuels was carted for 4 fours by Sangakkara all over the field. Parnell was next to get the treatment, the Sri Lankan bringing up his fifty by hitting over short fine leg before playing a cracking drive through cover for four. White joined the party soon after, plundering 25 runs off the unfortunate Ganguly, who, having been quite economical until then, perhaps brought himself on in the hope of stemming the flow of runs. Instead, White used his strength to smash the ball for a six over deep midwicket and two big ones over square leg, before finding the fine leg boundary.
Sangakkara matched the exploits of his vice-captain in the very next over, this time Ashish Nehra conceding 25 runs off the 19th over. The Deccan captain made good use of his crease to help himself to two fours and two sixes, and his wicket off the last ball of the 19th over was scant consolation as Nehra bowled Sangakkara for a 52-ball 82. White was dismissed by Parnell the next ball itself for a 45-ball 74, and only six runs came off the final over, but by then bottom-of-the-table Deccan had done enough to do the double over Pune, who missed out on a chance to move into the top four.