Deccan Chargers captain Kumar Sangakkara celebrates with teammates after the wicket of Pune Warriors India batsman Marlon Samuels during their IPL Twenty20 cricket match at the Sahara Stadium in Pune. AFP Photo/Punit Paranjpe
"Everyone needs an opportunity." This is what Dale Steyn, the Deccan Chargers speedster who has hustled the batsmen in the first half of the Indian Premier League, said while explaining the team management's decision to bench the South African for Thursday's game against the Pune Warriors.
Although the decision looked ridiculous in the evening, it proved a boon not just for Rusty Theron and Manpreet Gony, who both got a look in, but also for the winless Chargers.
Riding on the accurate bowling by the two medium-pacers, the Chargers didn't let the batsmen's good work go waste, registering their maiden win in the seventh game.
Victory at last
It may have taken a while coming but for the team that had become synonymous with last-over losses while defending a total, the 18-run victory was sweeter for more than one reason. For starters, Cameron White, who had been heckled as 'can't bat, can't bowl', waged a stinging attack to help the Chargers amass 177 for four after choosing to bat first.
And then, Theron and Gony justified the faith of their team management by sticking to the basics. Not once did the duo falter in its line and length, piling on the pressure on the Warriors batsmen with every passing ball.
Once Jesse Ryder perished early for the second time in three nights, it required Manish Pandey to repeat his Tuesday night heroics against the Delhi Daredevils if the Warriors had to stay in the hunt. But Theron forced him to play onto the stumps while forcing a back foot punch to take the fizz out of the chase.
Cramped for room
And once Gony, who had stifled Sourav Ganguly, forced the skipper to drive straight to substitute Daniel Harris at short covers, it was always going to be a difficult task for Robin Uthappa and Marlon Samuels.
If the Punjab paceman and the South African T20 specialist cashed in on the opportunity they got, all-rounder Ashish Reddy also proved effective with his medium-pace to make sure there was no late heartbreak for the Chargers this time around.
But it was White who helped the Chargers add 78 runs in the last seven overs. Instead of trying to slog, White preferred to make room outside the leg-stump and play inside-out lofted drives in the cover region. The strategy paid off with the ball flying into the stands consistently for once.