After three failed attempts, Bangalore finally tasted victory on their home ground, getting the better of Hyderabad in a match that went down to the wire. For those rooting for the Rahul Dravid-led team, the narrow three-run win at the Chinnawasmy Stadium was a pleasant surprise and gave rise to hopes of a turnaround in the team's fortunes.
It was a match Bangalore badly needed to win and the celebration in the stands, and amongst the players on the field, following Anil Kumble's final over, showed how desperate they were for a win.
After posting 156, the possibility of a win seemed unlikely with Hyderabad skipper VVS Laxman and Rohit Sharma going great guns. The two steadied the innings after the early departure of in-form opener Adam Gilchrist and Herschelle Gibbs. Their strokeful half-centuries almost brought Hyderabad on the brink of victory before disaster struck.
It all started when Sharma holed out to Jacques Kallis straight to Wasim Jaffer at long-on in the 16th to bring an end to their 96-run stand. Next man in, Shahid Afridi was done in by an outstanding catch by Dale Steyn in the deep, while Laxman and Scott Styris — they got out to deliveries that had pitched outside leg — were victims of poor umpiring by Billy Bowden and Suresh Shastri.
A flurry of wickets notwithstanding, a Hyderabad win did not seem unachievable — they needed 25 runs from 12 deliveries. But a measly Zaheer Khan put paid to all hopes of a Hyderabad win. Bowling the penultimate over of the match, Zaheer, who is leading the wicket-takers tally with 10 scalps, conceded just five runs. In the end, 20 off six balls turned out to be a little too much for Mark Boucher and Arjun Yadav as they fell short by three runs. Credit should also go to Man-of-the-Match Praveen Kumar who finished with 3 for 23. Without his crucial breakthroughs, Bangalore would have lost the match.
Earlier, Wasim Jaffer gave Bangalore the start they were looking for, and in the company of Virat Kohli (38), raced to 80 for one by the 10th over. Kohli, not in the best of form — his highest score before Saturday's match was 23 against Mumbai — used this match to get some runs against his name. But, despite Jaffer and Kohli's contributions, Bangalore failed to capitalise — they could score just 76 for the loss of seven wickets in the last ten overs and finished with a total less than what they had expected.
Had it not been for Dravid's late flourish, Bangalore wouldn't have crossed 150.