Kolkata take rain-hit encounter; Deccan remain winless

The slow pitch at Cuttack's Barabati Stadium stretched Kolkata's chase for 127 to the penultimate over.

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A Deccan Chargers cheerleader wipes her dancing platform dry during a rain halt on Sunday evening.

CUTTACK: Gayatri Reddy put up a brave face. There was little else she could do. Her team, Deccan Chargers, had just devolved to their fifth defeat in as many matches this season, their campaign lurching from one loss to another, their morale in tatters.

Chargers’ five-wicket loss to Kolkata Knight Riders in the rain-delayed fixture at Cuttack was largely a product of their own inability to seize the moment. Gautam Gambhir elected to field – a decision that satisfied both captains – and Chargers were off to a flier.

They didn’t lose a wicket until the last ball of the sixth over, when Kumar Sangakkara was castled by L. Balaji, and although the batsmen that followed spent a reasonable – by Twenty20 standards – time in the middle, none of them carried on to make a difference as Chargers settled for a middling 126-7.

Chargers even had a chance to arrest Kolkata’s progress. Although the target was manageable, tight bowling brought the requirement for Kolkata to 26 in four overs, as Dale Steyn returned for his second spell. The first ball was edged by the well-set Jacques Kallis through the vacant slip region, all the way to the third man boundary. The second ball, pitched up, found the edge too, but this time it came to rest in the gloves of the wicket-keeper.

Things might just have swung the way of Chargers then. But once again the Hyderabad team failed to capitalise. In the next over, Debabrata Das was dropped at long-on off Veer Pratap Singh, and when Amit Mishra leaked 10 runs in the 19th, it was all over but for the shouting.

For Kolkata, skipper Gambhir struck a neat 30, while Manoj Tiwary’s unbeaten 30 ensured that the chase was seen through despite the frequent loss of wickets. Steyn, as usual, bowled impressively, as did Ankit Sharma, but the paltry 126 failed to test Kolkata’s strong line up.

Earlier, Shikhar Dhawan opened the innings and scored a run-a ball half-century, failing to break the shackles when he attempted to break loose. Parthiv Patel was run out, Craig White rushed into a pull by a Brett Lee special, and nobody else stuck around for long enough to impact the scoreboard.

Lee was as miserly as ever, bowling his last two overs for just four runs. The last five overs of Chargers’ innings yielded just 28 as Sunil Narine and Balaji returned to bowl tight closing spells. Another loss for the 2009 champions plants them even more firmly at the bottom of the table, with little hope of redemption despite the presence of stalwarts such as Steyn and Sangakkara.