Star tumbles out of IPL

2009-05-21 00:00

THE culling has started in earnest in the IPL, and last night’s crucial clashes saw several drawcards reduced to spectators for this weekend’s final weekend.

Chennai Super Kings, after a minor stumble in their previous game, adapted to the trying conditions on offer at Kingsmead to register a 24-run win over the Kings XI Punjab, thus sending Yuvraj Singh’s side out of the competition.

The Kingsmead track, which had been a proverbial belter thus far, seemed to crumble on its final night, and the result was a strip tailor-made for Chennai’s clutch of slow bowlers.

Against the spin of Suresh Raina, Ravi Ashwin and the incomparable Muttiah Muralitharan, the Kings XI just never got going, with the spin trio snaring six wickets between them at a combined economy of just over three runs an over.

Chennai, once again without the mercurial Matthew Hayden, had only managed to compile 116 in their innings, leaving the door wide open for Punjab to claim their place in the last four.

Chennai had started promisingly, with Parthiv Patel and George Bailey rattling up 40. Then the wheels came off, as Ramesh Powar paved the way for a spin domination by pegging back the Chennai innings.

Punjab were really on top when the not-so-shy Sree Sreesanth bowled his international team-mate M.S. Dhoni with a snorter of a yorker.

Sreesanth’s celebration was more suited to a soccer cup final but, sadly for him and his Punjabi crew, it was only one of few moments of joy.

The Muralitharan effect was simply too much, as he thrived against Punjab’s seemingly endless supply of left-handers.

Aided by the pitch, Murali spun a web as only he knows how.

His figures were indeed startling, even by his high standards.

His four overs cost a measly eight runs, and he scooped up two key wickets in the process.

The control he exacted on the match re-iterated the importance of a quality spinner in this format, even if he can only tweak four overs.

In that time the little Sri Lankan wreaked enough havoc to see the Kings XI needing 56 runs off their last four overs.

Raina again impressed, and got the prize wicket of a disgruntled Yuvraj (6 off 19).

In this form, the Chennai outfit look handily placed to have a go at the top spot — being the new champions.

But last night was a time to say goodbye.

Kingsmead hosted the last of its 16 matches, and the Durban crowd again filled the stands to the brim.

While the patrons saw the last of the IPL on these shores, the popular champions of last year, the Rajasthan Royals, were making their own exit stage left.

Shane Warne and his troops never really got going this time around, missing several key players in their outfit — and also lacking that element of surprise from last year.

The Kings XI Punjab, highly popular with the Durbanites, also made their final appearance.

It is all coming to a ferocious end, however, and the best may be yet to come from the IPL roadshow.

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