Centurion, May 22: Cometh the hour, cometh the man…This man has always been a big-match player during his international days and it seemed that he has not changed ever since he retired from the top level of cricket.
This is former Australian wicketkeeper and current Deccan Chargers skipper Gilchrist for you, who had single-handedly won the two big World Cup finals for Australia. Here on Friday, he provided an encore by knocking out the best team of the IPL II, Delhi Daredevils in the semi-finals and took his team to the final despite ending the first edition of the cash-rich event with the wooden spoon.
Gilchrist played a blistering knock of 85 off just 35 balls with the assistance of 10 fours and 5 huge sixes to upset or rather outclass Delhi Daredevils by 6 wickets.
Gilchrist, who was at his ferocious best tonight, slammed the fastest IPL fifty to give his team a much-needed platform to overhaul Delhi’s total. Gilchrist was in an attacking mood ever since he came to the crease, hitting Dirk Nannes five fours in the very first over to set the tone for his team’s run-chase. He reached his fifty off juts 17 balls.
Taking over the captaincy from the struggling VVS Laxman before the beginning of the IPL 2009, he changed the fortune of his team with his powerful batting and inspiring captaincy. He led by example throughout the whole tournament, giving his team flying starts in countless number of times. It’s due to his batting that Deccan reached the semi-final this year.
But he took his batting to a new level here on Friday against one of the best attacks of the tournament. He spared no bowlers, his shots went to the every corner of the park. Such was the dominance of his powerful batting that Dirk Nannes, one of the best bowlers of event, had to be hided lest the bowler forgett how to bowl in the future.
When he left the field, picked up by leggie Amit Mishra, his team needed only fifty more to score in more than 10 overs, an easy equation considering the batsmen that had to come after him.
After his departure another Aussie, the burly Andrew Symonds took the charge of carrying the good work done by his former Australian teammate. Symonds did not disappoint either as he started torturing the Delhi bowlers, whose morale already took a beating during the time when the Deccan captain was at the crease.
Amit Mishra tried his level best to stop the run-feast by claiming 3 wickets. After sending devastating Gilly to the pavilion, he picked up Azhar Bilakhia (3) and Andrew Symonds (24) but it was not enough as other Delhi bowlers simply lacked the stomach for fight which was shown by their batsmen earlier when Delhi post a competitive 153/8 despite started off disastrously.
Finally, it was left to T Suman (24*) and Rohit Sharma (5*) to complete the formalities of overtaking Delhi’s total which they did with 14 balls to spare.
It was a great match considering the way Delhi fought back on the piggyback of Dilshan and Sehwag despite taking the early beating and posted a competitive 153/8.
At the outset, Delhi Daredevils’ Ashish Nehra came to his side’s rescue again as he clean bowled Deccan opener Herschelle Gibbs for a duck. Gibbs, who was in the non-striking end when Gilchrist carted Dirk Nannes for 5 boundaries in the very first over, tried to match his illustrious partner only to be cleaned up by newly resurgent Nehra.
Earlier put into bat first, in one of the greatest counter-attacking exhibitions on a cricket field, Tillakratne Dilshan (65) and Virender Sehwag (39) helped Delhi post a competitive score of 153/8 in allotted 20 overs.
It’s said that when situation gets tough, the toughs get going. Despite losing Gambhir and Warner batsmen early on for ducks, Sehwag and Dilshan got not only tough, but rather became brutal and attacked the oppositions like a wounded tiger.
After being pushed to the walls in the very first over of the match, Sehwag and Dilshan, in an amazing display of counter-attacking cricket, had taken the Deccan bowlers to the cleaners racing past fifty in no time.
Both the batsmen looked in murderous form, hitting everything that was thrown at them by the Deccan bowlers. The counter-attack reminded one of the World Cup semi-final match between India and Sri Lanka at Eden Garden way back in 1996 when Sri Lankan legend Aravinda de Silva took the attack to the opposition from the similar situation.
Here also, Sehwag, like De Silva, didn’t lose heart but rather launched a blistering counter-attack to pull his team out of the early woods. He got an able ally in Dilshan who matched Viru stroke for stroke to give Delhi Daredevils the ideal platform and perfect momentum to go for the knock-out punch.
Dilshan, who has been the saviour for the Delhi team along with de Villiers in this year’s IPL, reached yet another fifty as he almost carried the Delhi innings on his shoulder. When he got out for a destructive 65 off 51 balls in the last over, Delhi were in relatively safe position and gave their bowlers enough to bowl on.
Such was the intensity of their offensive style that they helped Delhi reach 83/2 after 10 overs, the time for strategic break.
Just as it was beginning to look that there would be no respite for the Deccan Chargers’ bowlers, the curse of ‘Strategic time-out’ break came to their rescue. In the 11th over, Delhi skipper Virender Sehwag essay at the crease, which was beginning to take threatening proportions, was cut short by Andrew Symonds for 39 runs. Sehwag lasted 31 balls and hit 5 fours, stitching a valuable 85 run partnership with Tilakaratne Dilshan to lead Delhi’s revival in the process.
After playing a little cameo of 26, the South African batting sensation A B de Villiers departed, caught behind by Gilchrist off Purple Cap holder R P Singh.
Immediately after the high-voltage match started, Daredevils, put into bat first by Gilchrist, got off to a horrendous start as they lost two quick wickets in the very first over of the match.
Gambhir was the first man to be dismissed as he was caught at third-man by RP Singh off Rayan Harris for a duck in the fifth ball of the first over.
The next ball of that dramatic over then produced another wicket in David Warner. Warner also got out for duck to reduce Delhi tottering at 0 for the loss of 2 wickets.
Delhi Daredevils (Playing XI): Gautam Gambhir, David Warner, Virender Sehwag(c), Tillakaratne Dilshan, AB de Villiers, Rajat Bhatia, Dinesh Karthik(w), Amit Mishra, Pradeep Sangwan, Dirk Nannes, Ashish Nehra
Deccan Chargers (Playing XI): Adam Gilchrist(w/c), Herschelle Gibbs, Tirumalsetti Suman, Andrew Symonds, Rohit Sharma, Venugopal Rao, Azhar Bilakhia, Ryan Harris, Harmeet Singh, Rudra Pratap Singh, Pragyan Ojha