There's no stopping Deccan's Indian batsmen
"Well the positive is that I'm not using up many deliveries," was Adam Gilchrist's reply to a question from a journalist about his extended run of poor form. The Deccan Chargers captain had already spoken after the last game of how he'd take a first-ball duck if his team won, and tonight his cheap dismissal left the visitors 13 for 1 chasing 175. Luckily for Gilchrist, his Indian players have shored up early losses as well as the middle order, easing the pressure on Andrew Symonds.
Gilchrist's failures have put a lot of pressure on the middle order, but T Suman and Rohit Sharma have acquitted themselves well, especially in the latter part of the tournament when Deccan have had to keep winning to stay alive. Suman made consecutive match-winning half-centuries while chasing, and Rohit has also made crucial contributions. Today was his most important innings of the season and it ensured Deccan lived to see another day.
Gilchrist's early exit, again skying the ball into the air, brought Suman to the middle in the second over and he was soon underway constructing another handy score. He took his time to settle, within the parameters of doing so in this format, and accelerated with a couple of lovely pick-up shots over the infield. Not slogs, proper shots. With Monish Mishra contributing 20, Deccan were never behind the asking rate and even when he fell in the seventh over the situation was in control. That allowed Rohit to play a well-paced game, mixing tempered aggression with useful Twenty20 shots.
Off the mark with a gorgeous back-foot caress, Rohit's innings featured trademark cuts through the arc square on the off side. Twice in recent times he's been out driving on the rise to mid-off and cutting to backward point, but tonight he ensured he kept the ball down. In between such shots, there were crisp clips and aerial flicks to ensure the run rate didn't escalate.
Rohit has been accused of being impetuous but tonight, he kept picking singles after hitting boundaries. A four and six off the first two balls of the 11th over had got Deccan the needed runs for the over, so Rohit followed up with a steered single. This happened in the next over as well, as Rohit pulled for four before easing a single down the ground. Ditto for the 13th over. His risk-free batting was the perfect recipe for Deccan's crucial win. Rohit didn't let himself get ahead of the game and that made a massive difference.
Symonds failed to spark and Mitchell Marsh, in his first innings, made 15 but the task was finished off by the main man. Rohit summed it up well after the match. "One of the batsmen had to stay till the end," he said. "The pitch was good, the ball was coming onto the bat well but from one end, where it was drier, the ball came on slower. It wasn't easy facing the fast bowlers but tonight it ended up good for us."
If Deccan win their final league match and qualify for the semi-finals, they will have a crop of bustling Indian batsmen to thank. Tonight's chase was made to look rather easy thanks to Rohit and Suman, and with Gilchrist signing off the post-match interview by vowing that one big innings was in the tank, Deccan are looking dangerous. Their final match is on the notoriously slow and low Delhi surface, so there will be no time like then for Gilchrist to strike and pay back his Indian players.
Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo