Deccan Chargers took a stride towards reserving their semi-final berth as they pipped Kolkata Knight Riders by six wickets in a last-ball Indian Premier League thriller on Saturday.
Put into bat first, Kolkata scored a competitive 160 for five, built largely around 17-ball 43 by David Hussey and Brad Hodge’s sedate 41-ball 48, but Deccan Chargers overwhelmed the target in the last ball.
Adam Gilchrist’s 31-ball 43 gave the Deccans good start, but the Hyderabad side suffered some mid-innings slump before Rohit Sharma’s 13-ball 32 guided them to the win.
With 14 runs needed from last four balls, Sharma hit a four off Mortaza and then hit another for maximum to wrap up the issue as they reached 166 in 20 overs.
Earlier, Kolkata openers Brenden McCullum and Sourav Ganguly were never at ease as the Deccan’s new-ball pair of Australian Ryan Harris and RP Singh extracted sharp bounce from the pitch that was otherwise looking a good batting track.
Harris inflicted first blow to Kolkata side as skipper McCullum (20), who was earlier dropped by Herchelle Gibbs, failed to negotiate a rising delivery as Tirumalsetti Suman ran backward to pouch a well-judged catch.
Ganguly then paired up with Australian Hodge but Andrew Symond’s seam-up deliveries and paceman Harmeet Singh’s good-length bowling restricted the batsmen duo from stepping on the accelerator.
Deccan fielders also showed some fine athleticism on the ground to stop several fence-bound shots, which only added to the frustration of the batsmen as the first 10 overs yielded only 50 runs.
Ganguly cracked a fine boundary in second delivery after the strategy break off Harmeet Singh and then struck another off Pragyan Ojha in the next over.
With the bowlers maintaining stifling line and length, Ganguly and Hodge had to rely heavily on running between the wickets to keep the scoreboard ticking.
Kolkata lost their second wicket when Ganguly (33 off 41), who added 58 runs with Hodge, decided to go after Rohit Sharma but his ambitious shot found Harris at the long-off region.
Hodge then decided to open his hands as he struck a four off Sharma and hit another off Ojha in the next over, with new batsman David Hussey also smiting the left-arm spinner into the stand.
Hodge, who adorned his innings with five boundaries, had to depart after falling prey to Harris in the 18th over.
However, Hussey then lit up the stadium with his batting pyrotechniques to guide the Kolkata side cross 150-run mark which was looking an impossible task at one point of time.
From the 19th over off Harmeet Singh, Hussey took 28 runs with the help of two boundaries and as many sixers, before Adam Gilchrist found him short off crease in the next over.
Chasing 161, Deccan started on an attacking note with Gilchrist sending pacer Ishant Sharma across the rope in the first over, before the left-hander cracked two consecutive sixers off Kolkata’s Bangladeshi import Mashrafe Mortaza in the next over.
Gilchrist and Protea Herchelle Gibbs handled the pacers duo without much difficulties and amassed 41 runs off first five overs.
Hodge broke the 68-run partnership when he sent Gilchrist who was looking dangerous, packing as substitute Laxmi Ratan Shukla dived forward to take a nice catch.
Deccan suffered their second loss in the form of Gibbs (28), who went after left-arm spinner Murali Karthik but Hussey took a comfortable catch at deep mid-wicket region.
Australian Andrew Symonds and Suman (31) then added 31 runs, before the latter ran himself out in 17th over.
Deccan suffered a huge blow when Mortaza’s direct throw found Symonds (13), who was in good touch indeed, short off the crease, sending supporters to celebration, but Rohit Sharma later saved the blushes of Deccan supporters.