Johannesburg: Cricket Pundits had written off Bangalore Royal Challengers after the first round of the tournament in the IPL 2. But Royal Challengers rediscovered themselves under the inspirational captaincy of Anil Kumble and they have stunned everybody by reaching the finals of IPL 2.
It is the 5th win on the row for Royal Challengers Bangalore and they have all the momentum going into the final tomorrow when they meet Deccan Chargers.
And believe it or not, it is two bottom-placed teams from IPL 2008, Bangalore Royal Challengers and Deccan Chargers will now meet the finals of IPL 2009.
Chasing a modest target of 146, Bangalore were off to poor start as they lost inform batsman Jacques Kallis and Vander Merve for just 22 runs in the score board.
But Manish Pandey 48 (35) carried on from his previous innings as he played a blinder to set it up for RCB. He hit seven fours in his magnificent innings. Dravid 44 (39) brought all his experience and anchored the Bangalore innings.
Manish Pandey and Rahul Dravid shared a 72 run partnership which proved decisive in the match. By the time Dravid left only 37 were needed. Then Ross Taylor (17) and Virat Kohli (24) applied the finishing touches. Royal Challengers achieved the target in 18.5 overs.
"This is my second game I am performing and really happy for that. The pitch was stopping a little bit, but Anil Bhai gave me the license to go out there and play my natural game" said delighted Manish Pandey, who was declared man of the match for the second consecutive time.
Earlier it was a disciplined bowling display from the Royal Challengers that helped them restrict Chennai, with top scorer Parthiv Patel (36) one of several players to get starts
Parthiv and Hayden got Chennai off to a breezy start as they scored 61 runs for the opening partnership. But just when it looked like Chennai was set for a huge score, Hayden departed. Parthiv was soon to follow him.
Patel who hit 36 off 27 balls was trapped in front of the wicket by Kallis.
Chennai went to for the strategic time-out with their scorecard reading 74/2, a sum not impressive enough for a team to have in a semi-final encounter.
A grave mistake by Suresh Raina cost the team his wicket, leaving Chennai struggling to find momentum in the game. Raina departed for 19 runs.
Praveen Kumar bowled a slower delivery as Raina came down the track, looking to pull it away. He was, however, deceived by the change in pace, as the ball took a top edge and went up in the air only to be caught by wicketkeeper Mark Boucher.
Dhoni who struggled to anchor Chennai innings scored 28 off 30 balls. He was dismissed by Vander Merve.