The script of the game had vacillations as the prime plot. But in the end inspiration took over and tremendous self-belief helped Rajasthan plunder an implausible win © AFP
On April 24, 2008 Rajasthan Royals pulled off an incredible heist against Deccan Chargers. Sarang Bhalerao revisits the day when Rajasthan played out of their skins to record the most successful run chase in the history of Indian Premier League.
This was akin to a gripping story. This wasn’t even a multi-starrer movie; the protagonists were resourceful young Indian players. It was refreshing to see the chutzpah with which the unheralded Rajasthan upstarts scripted one of the finest victories in the competition.
When the final over of the game was about to start, Rajasthan needed 17 runs. Up until that point the fight given by them was commendable. After all attempting to chase 215 runs off 20 overs is a Herculean task anyway.
Deccan Chargers were in charge of the match all throughout. The late order surge from Rajasthan gave them a scare but Chargers pegged back the Shane Warne-led team.
Andrew Symonds had hammered Royals to all parts of the ground. The feature of his batting was nonchalance while batting. The boundaries were cleared at will. The only blemish in Symonds’ near-perfect innings was a mistimed cut against Siddharth Trivedi in the 15th over. Yusuf Pathan dropped Symonds at point on 75; leather chasing topped the charts after the costly reprieve.
Symonds, who had had a 34-ball hundred for Kent against Middlesex in 2004, brought his first IPL hundred courtesy of a six over mid-wicket off his compatriot Warne. Even Warne applauded the effort of ‘Symo’.
Chargers scored 214 of their 20 overs. Rajasthan were disappointed; the ‘never say die’ attitude in them had to come to the fore.
If this were a movie then the plot till the intermission promised too much. Like in movies, it is very difficult to predict when the edge-of-the-seats stuff comes in. The movie, one felt, was heading towards a predictable climax. But it wasn’t to be.
South African captain Graeme Smith was playing like an erudite master backing himself to take on the bowling. While young Yusuf Pathan was like a cavalier, slapdash and marauder of a cricket ball. Pathan’s technique of hitting the ball on got Royals off to a flier after early loss of Kamran Akmal (12).
Chaminda Vaas, RP Singh, Pragyan Ojha and D Kalyankrishna were befuddled by Pathan’s cameo. The eighth over of the innings underlined his plucky approach. The six off Singh’s succor ball brought up Pathan’s fifty off only 21 deliveries. If this were a movie, then as an audience you wouldn’t mind sinking some cash of exasperatingly overpriced popcorn and snacks. Pathan was batting as if he was driving a car in the overcrowded aisles at 100kmph. Nothing seemed to bother him. And just when Pathan had almost done everything to tip the scales in Rajasthan’s favour, he hit a rank long hop from Kalyankrishna to Symonds at long-on.
Pathan’s incursion had got him 61 off 28 deliveries. Four boundaries and six sixes punctuated the adrenaline rushed performance from ‘Irfan Pathan’s brother’- as people used to call him back then.
Chargers got destructive all-rounder Shane Watson for four. They were on the ascendancy. With 89 needed off eight overs, Royals needed the decisive ‘final’ punch. Mohammad Kaif displayed his maverick avatar smashing a 16-ball 34.
With 29 needed off final three overs, Rajasthan looked favourites. But in a space of nine deliveries, Royals lost Kaif (34), Smith (71), Ravindra Jadeja (1) and Dinesh Salunkhe (1).
The only real hope for Royals was their captain Shane Warne. The odds were in favour of Deccan.
When the final over began, Deccan captain VVS Laxman took a huge gamble. He didn’t go to Ojha (who had two overs left) or Kalyankrishna (who had one over left). Instead Symonds was handed over the ball. His two overs had gone for 27 runs. But Symonds was one of Deccan’s stars and Laxman hoped him to pull off the game for Chargers.
When he went for three runs off his first two deliveries, Deccan were almost through. Fourteen off four deliveries looked improbable. But an intensely competitive all-time great was not yet done. The hit over Symonds’ head was a vintage blow.
As they say some of the games are not for ‘weak-hearted’. And when the fourth ball of the over went over deep mid-wicket for a six, there was a war-like cry from the Royals’ dug-out. Deccan Chargers were bewildered; the proverbial rug was slipping under the feet. And the realisation off a daylight robbery embarked upon them when Warne hit the fifth ball over extra-covers, inside out for a massive six.
Pathan embraced Warne to the point that the master fell down. The exuberance of youth was radiating joy. The doyens of the game, too had never seen anything like this ever before. Even Smith was ecstatic.
The script of the game had vacillations as the prime plot. But in the end inspiration took over and tremendous self-belief helped Rajasthan plunder an implausible win.
For Rajasthan this was just a baby step towards the glorious path carved by them. Rajasthan infact went on to win the inaugural IPL. And this game gave them the much needed fillip and conviction that- “We can win from anywhere.”
Brief Scores: Deccan Chargers 214 for 5 in 20 overs (Andrew Symonds 114*; Yusuf Pathan 2 for 20 ) lost to Rajasthan Royals 217 for 7 in 19.5 overs ( Graeme Smith 71, Yusuf Pathan 61; Shahid Afridi 3 for 28) by 3 wickets.
(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)