Rohit Sharma looked remarkably calm in the midst of all the carnage. It was almost as if he was in a different zone and nothing affected his concentration © AFP
On May 16, 2009, Rohit Sharma masterminded a remarkable run-chase for the Deccan Chargers against the Kolkata Knight Riders at the Indian Premier League (IPL). Until the last over of Deccan’s run-chase, Kolkata held the aces, but Rohit produced a blinder to steal the game. Nishad Pai Vaidya relives the encounter that boiled down to a dramatic final over.
The Deccan Chargers (DC) rose like a phoenix during the Indian Premier League (IPL), 2009. After failing miserable in the inaugural season, Chargers turned the tables when the tournament travelled to South Africa. On the other hand, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) had a woeful season, with controversies marring their journey all along. When the two sides clashed at the Wanderers in Johannesburg, there was only one overwhelming favourite.
Deccan captain Adam Gilchrist won the toss and elected to field first. Kolkata were low on confidence and perhaps Deccan wanted to put them under pressure by asking them to bat first. Beleaguered KKR was desperate to salvage some pride and posted a competitive total. Their start was slow as Brendon McCullum fell after an early surge. Sourav Ganguly struggled to get going and Brad Hodge had to resurrect the innings. A late burst by David Hussey saw Kolkata pile 160 on the board.
Mashrafe Mortaza, the star all-rounder from Bangladesh, was snapped for a huge sum at the auctions and was playing his first game of the season. Deccan’s innings began with Gilchrist welcoming him with two sixes. They got off to a rollicking start, but slowed down a touch. At the half-way mark, Deccan were 71 for one with Gilchrist back in the hut.
In the overs that followed, Kolkata kept it very tight and did not let the Deccan batsmen get away. They were getting the occasional boundaries, but the asking rate kept mounting. With four overs to go, Deccan needed 48 runs. Andrew Symonds and Tirumalasetti Suman were battling it out. Rohit Sharma was still in the dugout, waiting to have a go.
In an attempt to increase the run-rate and put pressure on the opposition, Suman was run-out. Symonds didn’t last long as he was dismissed in a similar manner. Through all that drama, Rohit made a quiet entry to the centre and got off the mark with a four. Kolkata were looking good for their second triumph of the season.
Kolkata bowled very well in the 18th and the 19th over not to concede boundaries. Rohit and Venugopal Rao could not find the gaps and had to be content with taking singles and twos.
Mortaza had a difficult day as his three overs had gone for 33 [before the last over]. However, his third over may have given him confidence as he conceded only seven. McCullum handed the ball to him to defend 21 in the final over of the game.
Rohit looked around the field and readied himself to face the first ball of the last over. Mortaza ran in and bowled a full-toss on Rohit’s pads, which was squirted away through square-leg. To add insult to injury, the umpires signaled a no-ball as KKR had only three men in the ring. A livid McCullum approached the umpires and gave them an earful. Emotions were running high and one could see how much it meant for Kolkata. They were anyways out of the tournament, but needed that victory as a saving grace. After all, they had lost nine on the trot [one game was washed out] coming into this game. But, they had gone too far in their dissent. The whole scenario unnerved them and dented their morale.
The task was relatively easier for Deccan as they now needed 16 runs off six balls. Rohit and Rao could manage only two singles off the first two legitimate deliveries and the scales tipped heavily in favour of Kolkata. With 14 required off four, Deccan desperately needed a big hit.
The pressure was on Rohit, but it got the better of Mortaza. The Bangladeshi bowled a full-toss and Rohit smashed it over mid-wicket for a huge six. Deccan started believing they could do it even as Kolkata were nervous.
There was more drama on store. Mortaza bowled a wide and the equation was now down to seven runs off three balls. Rohit took two off the next ball as he scampered back to take the strike. It was still difficult to pick a winner in this see-saw battle.
Rohit looked remarkably calm in the midst of all the carnage. It was almost as if he was in a different zone and nothing affected his concentration. With five needed from two, he heaved at a fullish delivery and hit it through wide long-off for four. Kolkata had let go off a game that was theirs and Rohit was having the last laugh.
The scores were level with one ball to go. Rohit only needed to push for a single to seal a victory, but his heroics deserved a stylish finish. Mortaza bowled it short and Rohit nonchalantly hooked it over fine-leg for a huge six. Deccan ran on to the field to celebrate a remarkable victory. Even as they ran towards their hero, he headed to the dug-out in a spontaneous burst of happiness. Kolkata felt paralysed and wondered what had hit them.
Rohit Sharma celebrates after hitting the winning runs against Kolkata Knight Riders © AFP
A remarkable innings of 32 off 13 balls had clinched a victory from the jaws of defeat. That showed how unpredictable T20 cricket was. This game signified the journeys for both sides that season. Deccan went on to win the tournament and it was one of the most inspirational campaigns seen at the IPL. On the other hand, everything that could go wrong went wrong for Kolkata in this game, an apt reflection of their whole season. However, they did win their last two games as consolation.
Kolkata Knight Riders 160 for 5 for 20 overs (Brad Hodge 48, David Hussey 43; Ryan Harris 2 for 20, Rohit Sharma 1 for 15) lost to Deccan Chargers 166 for 4 in 20 overs (Adam Gilchrist 43, Rohit Sharma 32*; Murali Karthik 1 for 12, Brad Hodge 1 for 23) by six wickets.
Man of the match: Rohit Sharma
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with cricketcountry.com and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)