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Hugh Chevallier in Durban
September 22, 2007
Adam Gilchrist, Australia's stand-in captain in the last two games, admitted the team never managed to hit the stride after a long lay-off since the World Cup win in the West Indies.
"A bit stuttery for us, wasn't it? A bad start and then a win and a loss and a win ... We never really got into a great rhythm," Gilchrist said after the semi-final loss to India at Kingsmead. "Probably to be expected from the break we had - and the lack of preparation. But by the time tonight came around, we'd played enough to be ready."
Gilchrist singled out Sreesanth's dismissal of Matthew Hayden as the turning-point of the semi-final at Kingsmead. "I felt Sreesanth was the difference in that game. I felt like we were in control, particularly with Matty [Hayden] and Symmo [Andrew Symonds] there, but then that big over. Getting Matty out just turned things their way."
Unsurprisingly, he also praised the form of one particular Indian batsman: "Yuvraj is in a great mindset. He's confident, he's seeing the ball well, he's just trusting himself. Crowds love [cricketers who] play without fear."
And there was admiration, too, for his opposite number as captain. "I thought [Mahendra Singh] Dhoni captained beautifully tonight. He just chose the right times to bowl those bowlers in the last three or four overs."
But when encouraged to pick a winner of Monday's final in Johannesburg, Gilchrist refused to be drawn. "Both teams are playing with a high level of skill. The Indian batting is so dangerous - and Pakistan are bowling beautifully ... so I can't pick a winner because it's that type of game. A little bit of luck does help teams get over the line in the big game. I'm sitting right on the fence."
There was a moment's hesitation when he was asked if he thought Twenty20 was cricket dumbing down. "I've been wrestling back and forwards with it ... I do think it's going to improve one-day cricket. I'm not sure it'll do much for Test cricket, but Test cricket's still a pretty good product." But, warming to his subject, he declared, "I think it's very much a positive for the game."
However, he did call the worth of individual, non-tournament Twenty20 games in to question. "It'll be interesting to see the one-off Twenty20 games now, what rides on those if there's nothing really up for grabs."
Hugh Chevallier is deputy editor of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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