Duminy and Zaheer keep Kolkata down

duminyKolkata Knight Riders made a good attempt at causing possibly the biggest surprise of the season so far but fell short despite smart bowling for most of Mumbai’s innings and a first fifty for them by Brad Hodge, who kept together a chase that threatened to fall away early on.

Mumbai turned the game irreversibly in six overs: the last three of their innings and the first three of Kolkata’s. The main characters in this script were JP Duminy and Zaheer Khan. Duminy’s late assault helped Mumbai scored 42 in the last three overs of an otherwise limp effort and, on the other side of the break, Zaheer removed Kolkata’s openers Chris Gayle and Sourav Ganguly in his first two overs.

Praveen and Bangalore upstage Yuvraj in thriller

YuvrajNerves? Perhaps. But nerves of steel. Having given up 14 runs in the 17th over, Praveen Kumar displayed admirable composure to bowl a four-run, double-wicket final over and seal an amazing eight-run win for Royal Challengers Bangalore. Two teams that met in Durban at contrasting positions in the IPL traded blows for 40 overs of a pulse-setting Twenty20 and, when it came to the crunch, Bangalore threw the biggest blow, derailing Kings XI Punjab from 70 for no loss to 137.

Raina gem inspires Chennai to victory

rainaIn a demonstration of power-hitting with which he carried Chennai Super Kings in the first IPL, Suresh Raina again showed his ability to dominate and, when the need arose, get out of a jam. Chennai were in early trouble after being put in to bat but the early loss of the openers to Shane Warne’s introduction of spin didn’t deter Raina, who dispatched the Rajasthan Royals attack to all parts of SuperSport Park. His one-man show was complemented by a disciplined and enthusiastic fielding display - including a wicket and two catches to the man of the moment - and Chennai wrapped up victory by 38 runs.

Abdulla clinches Punjab a last-over thriller

irfanTalk about pulling one from out of the hat. Defending a small total Kings XI Punjab’s three-pronged pace attack bowled canny spells to rock Mumbai Indians’ chase, and despite a composed half-century from JP Duminy, Punjab hung on to complete a nerve-wracking three-run victory. Mumbai hardly set a wrong foot forward from the time they lost the toss, striking early through spin and keeping their hands on the jugular through Lasith Malinga’s late strikes, but failed to chase 120. Kumar Sangakkara had kept the innings alive with an important unbeaten 45 with scant support and it proved decisive in the end. Having struck early in the piece the task of bowling the last over, and defend 12 runs, came to Yusuf Abdulla. And what an over it turned out to be.

Smith and Pathan script remarkable win

pathanShane Warne, at the start of the game, had tipped the struggling Graeme Smith to trigger a change in fortunes for Rajasthan Royals, and though he did meet his expectations, staying till the end, it was a monstrous blitz from Yusuf Pathan that blighted Delhi’s unbeaten run in the tournament. Spin continued to play a major influence, as Amit Mishra rattled Rajasthan with a three-wicket burst to leave them reeling at 64 for 5. But the presence of a determined Smith exuded assurance, and the ability of Pathan inspired confidence, as the pair wasted little time, amid some fortunate moments, to leave Delhi shell-shocked after they had held the cards for much of the innings.

Cool Boucher wins Bangalore a thriller

kevinIn a contest of two desperate teams, Royal Challengers Bangalore were simply more desperate, winning their second game of the season in six tries. Their desperation manifested itself positively, when they included three spinners in the side, opened the bowling with Kevin Pietersen and restricted Kolkata to a below-par total. And it showed up negatively, as they collapsed after a solid start - the first time both their openers got off the mark this season - and contrived to need 10 off the last over, having been 69 for 0 at one point.

Tait targets late-season IPL return

shaunShaun Tait is aiming to play in the closing rounds of the IPL, despite Cricket Australia this month ruling him out of the tournament on medical grounds. Tait returned to the nets this week after three months on the sidelines with chronic hamstring tendonitis, and is hopeful of being cleared for the final stages of the Rajasthan Royals’ campaign in South Africa.

Tait was the only senior Australian player to be selected in the 2009 IPL auction when purchased by Rajasthan for $375,000. The South Australian paceman was disappointed on learning of CA medical staff’s intention to stand him down from the lucrative Twenty20 league, but believes he has now made sufficient progress in his recovery from injury to be reconsidered.

Dilshan guides Delhi to victory

dislhanFor a while it looked like Delhi Daredevils’ batsmen had been a tad complacent while chasing a modest target, which Bangalore Royal Challengers’ bowlers defended tenaciously, but an unbeaten half-century from Tillakaratne Dilshan completed their third consecutive win in the tournament. The six-wicket victory took Delhi level with Deccan Chargers on top of the points table, with six each.

The only highlight for Bangalore, who suffered their fourth consecutive defeat, was the performance of their weak bowling attack, who kept them in the game longer than most people expected. Their top-order batsmen, despite changes to personnel and order, disappointed once again. Their overseas players failed to fire, and their fielding went to pieces just when they had a sniff at pulling off an upset win.

Flintoff injury huge blow - Pietersen

flintoff As Andrew Flintoff prepares for his latest trip to the operating table Kevin Pietersen, England’s other million-dollar IPL star, admitted it was a massive blow for England, but said players can’t be stopped from joining the event.

“It’s going to be very difficult for boards to pull players out of tournaments like this when you’re playing with the best players in the world,” Pietersen told the Guardian. “You can’t have one rule for some and another rule for others. But it’s a huge blow come the summer for England.”

Chopra and Bangar sent back

aakashKolkata Knight Riders have asked the senior pair of Aakash Chopra and Sanjay Bangar to return to India since they do not fit in the present “scheme of things”. The decision was taken after discussions between coach John Buchanan and the team management and while the players were not “happy” they accepted the decision. Both Chopra and Bangar, along with a few injured players will board a flight from Cape Town on Monday.