Hyderabad:Often during the course of this match, one wasn't sure if Hyderabad and Bangalore were playing to avoid the last place or to secure it --- such were the many ebbs and flows seen today at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium.
Bangalore were behind the required run rate throughout chasing Hyderabad's 165, and it finally took a refreshing cameo from B. Akhil (27 from 7 balls) to settle matters.
Rahul Dravid's men won by five wickets in the penultimate over of the game and their players, having avoided finishing last in the IPL, broke into a celebration and ran on to the ground as if they had just won the tournament.
The big start, the small finish
This is the fifth straight loss for Deccan Chargers on home turf. However, their captain Adam Gilchrist --- who didn't know much about losing when he was with Australia --- made all the bright moves to begin the match.
Having elected to bat, Gilchrist added 101 for the first wicket with Herschelle Gibbs. Having got those runs in a little over 11 overs, Hyderabad looked good for a huge score. Instead, their innings went downhill as they lost 10 wickets in 52 balls --- including their last five in ten balls. More crucially, they managed just one run off those ten balls and it was the difference in the final analysis.
Gibbs made 47 (34 balls, 6x4, 2x6) and Gilchrist 46 (37, 4x4, 2x6) and it was as good a platform Hyderabad would have hoped for. Earlier in the day Bangalore had thrown the new ball to Anil Kumble. While the move didn't work, Kumble finally provided his team the break in the 12th over, as Gibbs danced down the track to miss the line and be stumped.
Seven balls later, Gilchrist hit a flat drive all the way to long off and began Hyderabad's slide. It didn't help Hyderabad that Bangalore lost Jacques Kallis' bowling services to a leg injury. Dravid got Virat Kohli to fill in, and the youngster who has had a very dry tournament, got him two cheap wickets of Chamara Silva and D. Ravi Teja.
At the other end, R. Vinay Kumar worked magic at the death, finishing with 3-27 --- his best in the IPL --- with the big wickets of Gilchrist, Rohit Sharma and Venugopal Rao. Dale Steyn (2-19) was equally tough to get away in his four overs.
Fitting start to the chase
Confusion, listlessness and internal strife have marked Bangalore's campaign in the IPL. Kallis, opening the innings with Wasim Jaffer, had Virat Kohli as his runner. Considering Kallis' fortunes in the IPL, it is fitting that he got his partner into three run out situations. Jaffer survived the first one, but earned the dubious distinction of being run out twice in the same innings.
The first resulted in Jaffer's own dismissal, as he was beaten by a throw from Arjun Yadav at mid off. Jaffer stayed on in the middle as Kallis' runner and then was beaten by a direct hit by Chamara Silva, again from mid off. Kallis, who was timing the ball well for once, made 31 from 25 balls.
Bangalore had a couple of more thirties, from Misbah-ul Haq and Rahul Dravid. But Misbah holed out to long on and Dravid edged one behind to leave Bangalore in some bother.
Out came Akhil to join Cameron White --- who has had the same fortunes in the IPL as his team. With 16 runs to get from 12 balls, Gilchrist took a punt and threw the ball to Silva. But Akhil muscled three sixes in the over to seal the win.
Bangalore have now moved to eight points to Hyderabad's four. Both sides have a game each left, and after this loss, Deccan will remain the last place holders of IPL 2008.
What remains to be seen is if they can finally win a home game. They have one last chance, against Chennai Super Kings on Tuesday.