The Deccan Chargers has been the most amazing turnaround in this edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
The side with the unenviable distinction of being the inaugural editions bottom-placed team, have reached the final.
And if there is any one person who the team should be thankful to for this astonishing change in fortunes, it is their captain Adam Gilchrist.
Gilchrists appearance in IPL 2009 comes after over a years absence from cricket. In fact, ever since he called time on his international career last March, Gilchrist has played only once — in an exhibition T20 match.
But seeing the former Australia wicketkeeper setting the ground at Centurion on fire on Friday, one would find it hard to believe that Gilchrist has indeed retired from international cricket.
However, retirement is what an elated Chargers captain referred to as the reason for his superlative performance.
Gilchrist was in imperious form in Fridays semi-final against the Delhi DareDevils. The Australian wielded his bat like a scimitar and ruthlessly cut everyone down. Whatever an exasperated DareDevils captain Virender Sehwag threw at Gilchrist, the wicketkeeper dispatched to the boundary.
His 35-ball 85 meant, as Andrew Symonds said after the match, it was much easier for the team to finish the job. Symonds said they had decided to throw caution to the wind and go after the bowling, a plan that was carried out to explosive effect by Gilchrist.
The DareDevils had been the in-form team of this IPL. Under Sehwags leadership, the Delhi outfit made short work of most of their oppositions.
So much so, that in the contest for semi-final places, the DareDevils were home and dry while the others were still locked in a fight for spots. Such was the DareDevils superiority in the league stage that a player of Glenn McGraths abilities was not required to take the field.
The build-up to Friday saw the first semi-final billed as the battle of the belligerent openers, Gilchrist versus Sehwag. At the end of it all, it was Sehwag who was complaining about trying everything, but to no avail, against Gilchrist.
Here is what the two captains had to say after the match:
Gilchrist: Amazing what a little bit of freshness does. Great experience coming back after a year off. Its like riding a bike. Once you have played cricket and you know your shots its easy to get back in touch. I just wanted to stay on and keep a check on the run rate, put a little pressure on them. I thought the bowlers did a good job in restricting them to 150. We closed them out very well. A lot of catches have gone down in this tournament. Dont know whether it is the weather or what but the ground fielding and enthusiasm was there today. Hope we can finish off the tournament well. We are in a better position this time (as compared to last years bottom-placed finish). Its a two-horse race in the final, anyone can win… In Twenty20 you can always fancy your chances.
Sehwag: The way Gilchrist batted we had no chance. The bowlers had no clue. It wasnt our day. I thought 153 was a defendable total but the way Gilchrist batted, we could do very little. It was Gilchrists day. We tried everything, I brought myself into the attack, and also Dilshan but Gilly took the match away.