“Go Chargers, go Chargers, go go go,” the public address system blared again and again at the Chepauk on Sunday as Adam Gilchrist and his men trampled the Chennai Super Kings to win by 31 runs.
The chase was dealt a crippling blow by Matthew Hayden’s early dismissal. The burly Australian appeared caught between one cheeky shot and another and holed out to R.P. Singh at short fine-leg off Chaminda Vaas.
Around that moment of madness, the Super Kings had a few more as Murali Vijay, Suresh Raina and S. Badrinath perished to various versions of the slog. Mahendra Singh Dhoni tried, but it was not enough. Vaas finished with three for 21 off four overs.
The mood in the stadium at the end was far removed from what prevailed in the afternoon. The party at the Chepauk begins early. The gates are opened four hours before the match and the music starts right away as fans troop in. The stadium throbs with energy before the first ball is bowled.
The visitors were not without support. “Can’t you see, we are here for the Chargers,” yelled Koushik to a man trying to sell Super Kings’ flags to him. The group of seven live in Chennai but are from Andhra. Two wore T-shirts that said “Champions Deccan Chargers.”
As soon as the Chargers elected to bat, it became clear how their cheerleaders maintained their figures: if you had to dance every time Gilchrist hits a four or a six, imagine how many calories you can burn. The opener blasted 38 off 17, becoming the first man to cross 1000 runs in the IPL.
However, Gilchrist fell to Ashwin and Laxman was run out by Raina’s throw to Dhoni. It was then left to Herschelle Gibbs and Andrew Symonds to play sensibly and that, coupled with Rohit Sharma and T. Suman’s big hitting near the end took the Chargers to a comfortable 190 for four.
Dhoni’s bowling worries remained as Sudeep Tyagi’s nightmare start to IPL-III ended in him being banned from bowling after he sent down two full tosses above waist height.