Chargers stuned as Sabres fight back
Alfonso Thomas (30) and James Hildreth (25) pulled off a sensational last-ball one-wicket win for Somerset against reigning IPL Champions and hosts Deccan Chargers in a pulsating Group A match of the Champions League on Saturday.
Chasing 154 to win, the English side was tottering at 99/7 at one stage but Thomas and Hildreth snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by raising a superb 50-run stand for the eighth wicket.
Somerset required five runs from the last over, bowled by Scott Styris, and what followed was a heart-stopping drama.
Styris bowled Hildreth in the first ball to break the partnership and dismissed Max Waller in the third ball.
Thomas dispatched a full toss for a four to level the scores, played a dot ball and smashed another boundary, an inside out shot, to seal a thrilling win for his team.
Thomas' unbeaten knock came off just 17-balls and contained four boundaries and a six.
Earlier, sent in to bat, VVS Laxman hit a brilliant 46 at the top and Venugopal Rao sizzled with a fiery 22 down the order to guide the hosts to a competitive 153/9.
RP Singh (3/17) polished off the Somerset top order in a fiery opening spell to give the hosts the kind of start they needed to defend their modest total.
The left-arm pacer first dismissed Marcus Trescothick (14) and then broke 34-run second wicket partnership between Justin Langer (15) and Zander de Bruyn (19) by sending back the latter.
After two balls Singh got the wicket of skipper Langer, causing ripples in the rival camp.
Deccan spinners Pragyan Ojha (2/20) and T Suman (2/15) did well for the hosts as they stifled the Somerset middle-order with some good bowling.
Somerset were staring defeat having lost seven wickets before getting past 100-runs but Hildreth and Aflonso Thomas batted superbly to bring their team in the match.
Earlier, the IPL-II winners suffered a middle-order collapse to squander a breezy start but managed to put on a fighting total on a batting friendly wicket.
Laxman played brilliantly for his 35-ball knock and helped himself with seven elegant fours. Coming at number seven, Rao played a crucial 12-ball cameo to help his team get past the 150-run mark.
Deccan looked headed for a massive score at one stage but wickets fell regularly and that put paid to their hopes.
Rohit Sharma was the other notable batsman for Deccan with his contribution of 24 runs.
Ben Phillips took three wickets while Peter Trego and Alfonso Thomas took two wickets apiece for Somerset and were backed by some electric fielding by their teammates.
Laxman came to open the innings with his skipper Adam Gilchrist and began in a brilliant fashion, hitting Charl Willoughby for two boundaries in the very first over.
The left-handed Gilchrist also chose Willoughby for some special treatment as he fetched 17 runs from his next over by hitting two fours and clearing the ropes once at mid-wicket.
The IPL-II Champions were off to an explosive start and crowd was on its feet, cheering every run scored.
Gilchrist went for a big shot off Alfonso Thomas but miscued his pull and ended up in the hands of Marucs Trescothick.
Tirumalasetti Suman (6) joined his captain in the hut soon and this time Ven Phillips striking for the English team.
Laxman was unperturbed and yet again punished Willoughby severely, dispatching him for consecutive fours.
Andrew Symonds (8) joined Laxman in the middle but could not do much. While trying to hit Peter Trego out of park he over found Trescothick at long-on.
Run-rate was not a problem for Deccan as they were going handsomely at that stage but falling wickets was a concern.
Trego struck again and this time he scalped the big wicket of Laxman, leaving the host reeling 88/4.
All the responsibility to lift the IPL Champions from pits fell on Rohit Sharma and Scott Styris.
Runs were not coming easily, Styris broke the shackles by hitting a huge six off Zander de Bruyn. Rohit hit the bowler for a four but only to be dismissed in the next ball.
Styris fell to a suspicious looking leg before decision off Thomas, leaving Deccan at 121/6.
Venugopal then extracted two boundaries off Thomas and banged Phillips for a six before getting out.