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Chennai miss out narrowly

Needing a win against Jaipur to qualify for the semi-finals, the hosts fell short by 10 runs. A report by KR Guruprasad. Where they standmahiway | MSD writes for HT
Hindustan Times | By KR Guruprasad, Chennai
UPDATED ON MAY 25, 2008 01:33 AM IST

In cricket, as in life, poetic justice happens rarely and Saturday was not one of those days for Chennai.

Needing a win against Jaipur to qualify for the semi-finals, the hosts fell short by 10 runs. Chennai now have to win their last league match against Hyderabad.

Earlier, Jaipur openers Graeme Smith and Swapnil Asnodkar shared a partnership of 127 while Kamran Akmal pitched in with a quickfire 57 to guide his team to 211-5 in 20 overs.

For most part of the chase, Chennai appeared to have saved the best for their last home match at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium.

On an even paced pitch that offered little assistance to seamers, Chennai was given a fighting chance by Parthiv Patel and Suresh Raina.

Albie Morkel joined the party and kept the momentum going but captain M.S. Dhoni's dismissal in the 18th over pegged them on the back foot.

With 30 needed in 15 balls, Chennai had every reason to believe they could pull it off.

But Shane Warne showed why he is considered the most astute of leaders as he got his bowlers to tie down the dangerous Morkel with fuller deliveries outside off stump. The South African could only steer them for singles.

It came down to 15 from the last over --- something Chennai had pulled off against Delhi. Manpreet Gony, who had got those runs in the national capital, was at the crease.

But Sohail Tanvir, who tormented them in the previous encounter, returned to haunt them. The first four balls produced only four runs. With 11 needed from two balls, the crowd waited for a final flourish from their highest scorer. But Morkel ended up offering a catch and the final delivery saw Abhinav Mukund castled.

Jaipur pocketed their 10th win and consolidated their position at the top of the table.

Warne was in no mood for subtleties on a humid afternoon. He shouted himself hoarse during the toss, almost as if he wanted the coin to do his bidding.

He elected to bat after calling correctly and out walked Smith and Asnodkar.

On a pitch where batsmen could hit through the line, the pint-sized Asnodkar began the onslaught but the towering Smith soon outdid him.

If Smith bludgeoned the bowling with his lofted shots and punishing cuts, Asnodkar used his short back-lift while pulling and smashing the ball. After Asnodkar departed, Akmal took over. On an unforgiving pitch, the Chennai bowlers were helpless though ironically it was a bowler --- Tanvir, who had the last laugh.

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