Bangalore Royal Challengers v Deccan Chargers, IPL, Cape Town April 22, 2009

Gilchrist lends weight to opening statements

Victor Brown
The wisdom ahead of this tournament as experts tried to compare and contrast Indian conditions with those in South Africa was that the new ball was going to be crucial. It has indeed been crucial, but just not in the way people expected

The wisdom ahead of this tournament as experts tried to compare and contrast Indian conditions with those in South Africa was that the new ball was going to be crucial. Here, finally, would be the chance for Indian Premier League seamers to get their own back after last year's succession of subcontinental shirt-fronts left them desperately searching for creases and rivets. And it's true: the new ball has indeed been crucial. Just not in the way people expected.

Tonight's blast-from-the-past 71 in 45 balls by Adam Gilchrist, who added 46 for Deccan Chargers' first wicket with Herschelle Gibbs in only 3.5 overs, continued a mini-trend that may persuade fast bowlers it really is a batsman's game after all. And it didn't take Gilchrist long to make the point either: he pulled Praveen Kumar's second ball of the match for four, carved the third off the back foot through the covers for four more, then cut the fourth raspingly for another boundary. The all-important momentum seemed to have swung early - and decisively.

The Gilchrist-Gibbs combination is not the only opening pair capable of reducing grown men to gibbering wrecks. On Sunday, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir biffed 58 in 4.5 overs to win a rain-affected match against Kings XI Punjab in Cape Town. The following evening in Port Elizabeth, Matthew Hayden and Parthiv Patel had butchered 106 by the time they were separated in the 11th over. Yesterday in Durban, Brendon McCullum and Chris Gayle merrily put on 57 inside six overs to unwittingly ensure a D/L-assisted win over poor old Punjab.

Even before that, we had Sachin Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya beginning the tournament with a sensible 39, not to mention Ravi Bopara and Karan Goel adding a forgotten 67 inside six overs for Kings XI Punjab the next day. The idea that the extra life in South African pitches would at least spare the new-ball bowlers a battering, is fighting for its life.

With that in mind, Gilchrist may not have been the batsman Kumar, Dale Steyn, Jacques Kallis or anyone else for that matter wanted to bowl to. Gilchrist hasn't played top-flight cricket since the first IPL, where he managed 436 runs at an average of 33 and a strike-rate of 137 - respectable figures in a losing Deccan team. The word was his only game between then and the start of this year's tournament was a Twenty20 match in aid of the Australian bush-fire appeal. Even so, the aura lives on.

After that opening salvo against Kumar, Gilchrist cut Steyn twice for four, then helped him back over his head for a straight six with the ease of a man peeling a banana. After two overs, Deccan had 27 on the board and the contribution of Gibbs was a single. Soon after Kallis disappeared onto the sightscreen at the Wynberg End, and had to crick his neck again next ball as Gilchrist spanked him straight down the ground for four.

A pull for six off Jesse Ryder brought up a coruscating 31-ball half-century, which was duly celebrated with six more over wide mid-on. And when Gilchrist advanced on Anil Kumble, who adjusted his line at last moment, the result was an improvised whip over midwicket for the six that brought up Deccan's 100. With Australia crumbling today to 168 in Abu Dhabi against Pakistan, it was not difficult to come over all nostalgic.

The end came courtesy of a stunningly nonchalant catch by Virat Kohli at short extra cover as Gilchrist looked to launch Kevin Pietersen for another boundary, but then it was always going to take something special to stop him. And although Fidel Edwards hit back for the new-ball brethren by knocking over Ryder with a gorgeous inswinging yorker as Bangalore began their reply, that simply highlighted the excellence of what had gone before. And it showed Edwards' fast-bowling comrades that invention and daring will be needed as this tournament progresses if the shine isn't going to disappear off the new ball more quickly than the smile off Ryder's face.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Adonis on April 23, 2009, 20:37 GMT

    What happened to KP and Jennings?? What are your strategies? Send Rahul up control the disaster. If you observe the past or the current matches, when Dravid playing you can see the stability in the match. Also ask Uthappa to be a bit aggressive. I wonder why BRC is not including GAURAV DHIMAN? May be KP does n't know his capability. If you look at the team batting lineup you can not see a left hander (except Jesse). Include some southpaw's in the team likes of Sri Vastav and Van Der Merwere. Bangalore is badly missing quick fires likes of Goel, Nayar.. Atlest compensate that by including DHIMAN and Van Der Merwere. Come on Bangalore... Come on KP.... I hope we will see a better BRC in tomorrow match.

  • Muraly on April 23, 2009, 12:48 GMT

    I just do not understand why play Dravid at no 6 when he is the inform batsman. Also Dravid is the best no 3 batsman in all forms of cricket. I strogly belive that he should come at No 3 and then allow other players to build around him and he can efficiently play the role of anchor which he is proved in all forms of game and all corners of the world...come on KP and Coach Jennings...give Dravid the right place in the team.

  • Guru on April 23, 2009, 11:53 GMT

    Hello "OOZZ". This comment is for u. Q: Why Sachin was adjudged as MOM in that match? A: Firstly, the pitch was bowling friendly. Second Sachin opened the innings and was the main pillar and guided the team to reach above 160. Its because of his anchor role. If he just concentrate on his strike rate.. the team total would have not reached 160. And if you compare the scores of the both teams.. Only Sachin's runs made the difference. Ofcourse, it doesn't mean that others are not contributed. But his innings is significant. Any Why not Malinga? Malinga has taken 2 good wickets and another one at the end when the match was already came in the hands of Mumbai.

  • Jaijo on April 23, 2009, 10:56 GMT

    I dunno why uthappa is in the team. Does he know it is a 20 over game. Each game he is trying to defend that too young and inexperienced bowlers.Can someone tell Kevin to move him out of the playing eleven

  • Siva on April 23, 2009, 9:23 GMT

    I hope Bangalore Can Go for this Order. 1. Jesse Ryder 2. Ross Taylor 3. J. Kallis or Roelof van der Merwe 4. Kevin Pietersen 5. Rahul Dravid 6. Robin Uthappa / Gaurav Dhiman /Shreevats Goswami(WK) 7. Virat Kohli / Balachandra Akhil 8. Bhuvneshwar Kumar 9. Praveen Kumar 10. Tinu Yohannan / Vinay Kumar 11. Anil Kumble I hope if taylor out soon they can change order and bring Uthappa there.

  • Rasif on April 23, 2009, 9:21 GMT

    Can somebody please enlighten how they choose Man of the Matches? In the Mumbai-Chennai match, why was Sachin given Man of Match and not Malinga. If that was the case then in the Chennai-Bangalore match why Hayden was not given M-O-M and instead it was given to Murali? Hayden's strike rate is far better than Sachin's. Murali's and Malinga's figures are identical. Sachin had a life early in his innings. Irrsepective of Sachin's innings, if it were not for Abhishek Nayar's batting, would Mumbai have won? Funny, how Sachin manages so many M-O-Ms...

  • Sathya on April 23, 2009, 9:05 GMT

    DC really looks charged up this season. I saw a copule of matches on ground last year and the entire team (including cheer leaders) were lacking motivation. And thankfully they have kept Arjun Yadav away this time. Team selection really looks smart. Once Fidel goes away for national duties, they can get Vaas in. And towards the last phase we will have Symonds anyway.

  • Vinodh on April 23, 2009, 8:48 GMT

    Certainly its a treat to watch Gilly bat the way he did. Who on earth could say that T20 is not the game for Oldies.. Infact this tournament totally proved the theory wrong.. Dravid, Hayden, Sachin, Sanath, Gilly, Kumble, Warne... and the list is endless.. Infact these youngsters should take a leaf or two from these big guns how to adapt themselves to international stage..They look totally young when they are doing their best..I think they forget the age when they are on a song...Amazing effort..Kudos Old Boys!! Keep them going...

  • Sharat on April 23, 2009, 7:22 GMT

    And talk about being a batsmen's game, what are they hitting? A ball delivered by bowler. Chargers lost last season coz it was a balanced game after all. All their weapons on batting never made up for the problems on bowling side.

  • Aswin on April 23, 2009, 6:31 GMT

    I think Gilchrist has been an ideal captain for Deccan Charges since he leads by Example always. With an attacking batsman like him at the top, I think Deccan Chargers should improve their fortunes drastically this time around. Strategies and team selection will be the key to their fortunes this time around. As for the teams like the Kolkata Knight Riders, I fear their team selection is horribly wrong. I donno why John Buchanan doesn't choose to let Mendis play in the team when the tracks are offering assistance to spin. By the way, What is Akash Chopra doing in the side? Could somebody tell him that this is a game for attacking players.

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