The trend of IPL teams biting the dust continued as Deccan Chargers lost their 1st match in the tournament to Somerset. It was a thrilling encounter which went right down to the last ball of the match with the team from England eventually prevailing over the Adam Gilchrist led IPL champions by 1 wicket. Justin Langer opted to field first on winning the toss and his side managed to restrict the opposition to 153/9 in the 20 overs. In response, Somerset after having been in a comfortable position initially started to lose wickets in a hurry. At one stage, the match looked as good as lost for them but some courageous batting towards the end from Alfonso Thomas saw them through.
Gilchrist opened the batting with local man VVS Laxman and it the latter who surprisingly led the early charge. Some uncharacteristically slogs from Laxman set the tempo for the home team and when Gilchrist too got into the act in the 3rd over of the innings, things looked tough for Somerset. But once Gilchrist got out, none of the other batsmen who followed him could maintain the momentum. From scoring at more than 10 runs per over in the powerplay, the overs that followed hardly produced anything as Ben Phillips and especially Peter Trego tightened the screws around the Deccan Chargers. Andrew Symonds and Rohit Sharma, both departed just as they were looking dangerous and Laxman too fell in the pursuit to up the ante. He top scored with 46 that came off 35 balls and some later order hitting from Venugopal Rao ensured that the side got to a competitive 153, a total that was nonetheless far less than what the team would have settled for given the start that they got. Ben Phillips was the most successful bowler with figures of 3/31 while Peter Trego was the most economical with his 4 overs going for only 19. He also picked 2 key wickets, that of Laxman and Symonds.
Somerset’s chase began on a positive note with Trescothick and Langer starting off well. Even after Trescothick departed, Langer in the company of Zander de Bruyn continued to keep the bowlers under pressure and till the 5th over, the scoring rate looked healthy at 9.60 runs per over. Once Langer and de Bruyn, both got out in the 6th over, the pendulum shifted dramatically as wickets then kept falling at regular intervals. Moreover, the spinners in operation then weren’t giving much away as the run scoring dipped sharply. From 48/1 at the end of the 5th over, Somerset slipped to 99/7 at the end of the 14th and with 55 needed off the last 6, things looked bleak for them. It was raining as well then and had the match been suspended at that point in time, the Chargers would have won on the D/W system. But the rains were to stop later and what followed thereafter was a thoroughly spirited run chase.
The required run rate was never an issue for the side for Somerset, wickets in hand was. So, when the 8th wicket pair of Alfonso Thomas and James Hildreth started to get a ‘move on’, things once again looked good for them. 24 runs came of over numbers 15 and 16 as Gilchrist’s move of persisting with the slow bowlers backfired. To compound his problems, Fidel Edwards was called off the attack for bowling a 2nd beamer in the match which meant that he had to turn to his non-regular bowlers. Runs kept leaking and 26 runs were scored of the next 3 as the team now required only 5 off the last over.
The 8th wicket pair that had added 50 runs by now looked in complete command to finish off a memorable chase. But Scott Styris who was called on to bowl the 20th over nearly pulled off a miracle. His 1st and 3rd balls reduced Somerset to 9 wickets down and he’d still not conceded a run in the over till then. However, Thomas who was still there on the crease and got strike on the 4th ball, creamed a boundary to get the scores leveled. A dot ball followed next and with 1 run still required off the last ball, Thomas hit another boundary ensuring that the Chargers’ losing record at Hyderabad continued. He was undoubtedly the Hero of the night for Somerset and not surprisingly was also chosen as the ‘Man of the Match’.