Pandey steers Royal Challengers to IPL final (Lead)

May 24th, 2009 - 1:49 am ICT by IANS  

Ross Taylor Johannesburg, May 24 (IANS) On a roll after his unbeaten century against Deccan Chargers, youngster Manish Pandey played another scintilating knock Saturday as Bangalore Royal Challengers stormed into the finals of the Indian Premier League (IPL), pipping last year’s runners-up Chennai Super Kings by six wickets at the New Wanderers here.
Sunday’s final here will be between last year’s two bottom placed teams Royal Challengers and Deccan Chargers.

Chasing 147, the 19-year-old Pandey struck a 35-ball 48 while the old warhorse Rahul Dravid scored a vaulable 44 as Royal Challengers made 149 with seven balls to spare. Quite naturally, Pandey was declared the Man of the Match.

Put in to bat, Super Kings’ top order got them a good start but this did not translate into a big innings as they could only make 146 for five in 20 overs. Parthiv Patel was the top scorer with 36 while skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni made 28.

Royal Challengers suffered an early set-back while chasing as Jacques Kallis (9) was back in the dugout in the second over. Local boy Roelof van der Merwe (2) failed to make the most of the life he got after Muttiah Muraliatharan dropped him off Albie Morkel. In the next delivery, Merwe found his stumps rattled by his compatriot Morkel.

Pandey and Dravid then stitched a crucial 72-run partnership for the third wicket to put Royal Challengers back on track. Pandey played some brilliant shots on both sides of the wicket, including seven fours, while Dravid was more composed and kept rotating the strike during his 39-ball innings.

Virat Kohli (24 not out) and Ross Taylor (17 not out) then played some big shots as Royal Challengers romped home safely.

Earlier, Patel top scored with 36 as Super Kings posted a modest total. Patel and Matthew Hayden (26) gave last year’s runners-up a good start as the 50 came up in the sixth over. Patel was more aggresive and set the tone of his innings with three fours off Jacques Kallis in the second over. But Kallis had the last laugh by trapping Patel leg before.

Hayden, who is the leading run scorer in the IPL, looked on a song but his 19-ball stay was ended by Vinay Kumar, with Pandey taking the catch.

Every time Super Kings started builing a partnership, the Royal Challengers’ bowlers pulled the game back in their favour by picking up wickets at regular intervals.

For Kumble, all his bowling changes worked as he maintained an impressive record as a captain as Royal Challengers posted their fifth victory on the trot. Royal Challengers have won seven of the nine matches Kumble has led them in.

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