Gilchrist leaves Mumbai gasping
Adam Gilchrist ignited the DY Patil Stadium with the fastest century of the tournament as the Deccan Chargers raced to their first win. The battle between the two bottom-ranked teams was a no-contest once Gilchrist teed off, and Deccan charged to an emphatic ten-wicket victory in the first major game at the stadium.
Andrew Symonds had got a century off 47 deliveries the previous game but Gilchrist needed only 42 as he decimated the weak Mumbai Indians' attack on a small ground. The intent was aggressive right from the word go, and Gilchrist made use of short deliveries in the first over from Ashish Nehra, dispatching one over square leg and the other through cover point.
Pulls and cuts were played with ease as Mumbai's quicker bowlers erred in their length, and after six fours, Gilchrist hit his first six, lofting Sanath Jayasuriya over deep midwicket. Siddharth Chitnis, the off-break bowler making his Twenty20 debut, was spared by going only for 12 in the last Powerplay over, but Shaun Pollock, leading Mumbai in Harbhajan Singh's absence, was taken apart once the field restrictions were off.
Gilchrist savagely pulled Pollock over the deep backward square-leg boundary for consecutive sixes, the first bringing up his first Twenty20 fifty. The shot that followed pierced the off-side boundary, and Gilchrist then nonchalantly moved across the stumps to launch one over long leg, making it 23 for the over.
Abhishek Nayar's arrival was greeted with three sixes, the third over midwicket brought up the hundred, and more astonishing was the fact that he had reached the mark as early as on the stroke of the tenth over. From then on, victory was just a formality, and Deccan reached their target with 48 balls to spare, both indication of the fury that had been unleashed. At the other end, VVS Laxman scored just 37 in a stand of 155, easily the highest of the tournament. Mumbai might have been at the receiving end, but the home crowd too cheered what had been an enthralling innings. Ninety-six of Gilchrist's 109 came through boundaries, making it a busy day for the Deccan cheerleaders, who were sporting a new outfit.
A new home ground and a new captain surely didn't bring about a turn of fortunes for Mumbai, and Deccan justified Laxman's decision to field first by restricting them to 154. Laxman's captaincy had come under the hammer after three consecutive losses, but on Sunday he was right on the ball. He was quick to shuffle around his bowlers, who to their credit, backed up their captain's decision with some good bowling.
It was only the string of 30s from the middle order that helped Mumbai reach 154. Pollock made a run-a-ball 31 to revive the innings, but it was the quickfire 34s from Nayar and Dwayne Bravo that ensured the Mumbai bowlers had a decent total to defend.
Jayasuriya and Luke Ronchi had failed to make an impression in earlier games, and they were kept quiet once again, despite the short boundaries, by RP Singh and Nuwan Zoysa. Ronchi hit three fours, but fell attempting to slash a wide delivery angled across from RP, edging straight to Laxman at slip.
Sanjay Bangar was brought on in the fourth over, perhaps to help Zoysa change ends, and Ajinkya Rahane, another Twenty20 debutant, pulled straight into the hands of Pragyan Ojha at deep square leg. The next move from Laxman though was a masterstroke. Shahid Afridi was brought on in the final over of the Powerplay, and he had Robin Uthappa caught behind. At the end of six overs, Mumbai were tottering at 27 for 3.
Jayasuriya had made only 4 off his first ten deliveries, and one pitched short from Zoysa fetched him his first boundary, which came off his 14th. But, once again Afridi did the damage, Jayasuriya got a top edge as he tried to power a googly through the leg side. The onus was then on Pollock to hold the innings together, but he too couldn't stay till the end.
Nayar smashed three sixes in his 19-ball innings, as 45 runs came in the overs 14 to 16. But he top-edged to Gilchrist while trying to hook Zoysa. Bravo too managed to find the gaps, and was out for 34 off the last ball of the innings as Mumbai finished on 154. However, with the form Gilchrist was in, even 254 would have been tough to defend for Mumbai, who now have four losses after four games, and sorely need Sachin Tendulkar to return.
Mathew Varghese is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo