The IPL final could have gone either way but Andrew Symonds’ back-to-back strikes tilted the balance in favour of Deccan Chargers, according to captain Adam Gilchrist and his Bangalore counterpart Anil Kumble.
Chasing a modest 144, Bangalore looked on course for victory until Symonds struck twice in the 15th over, removing both Ross Taylor and Virat Kohli with the second and third deliveries respectively. Gilchrist believed the match was evenly poised until then and congratulated Bangalore on making it a great contest. “I think for us, Pragyan Ojha did really well claiming three crucial wickets but those two wickets in two balls, that really hurts especially when a team is chasing,” Gilchrist said.
Kumble agreed that over was the turning point. “On this track, chasing 144 was not a big task and we needed seven runs an over. But losing Taylor and Kohli in two balls hurt,” Kumble said. “Earlier, we lost Rahul [Dravid] and that put the brakes on. We didn’t have partnerships and still were one hit away from a win.”
They were also plenty of positives for both captains to dwell on. Gilchrist, who was adjudged the Player of the Tournament, was delighted with the performance of the youngsters in the team and he singled out Harmeet Singh, who took two wickets and a stunning catch, for special praise.
“We have a number of youngsters in the side and all of them are eager to learn and grow,” Gilchrist said. “It was amazing to see Harmeet tonight, the way he bowled and then took that amazing catch.”
Kumble credited his team-mates for the incredible turnaround in the tournament, having finished second from bottom last season. “Two weeks ago, after the match against Mumbai, we said it was tough to win five in a row and reach the final. I credit my teammates for doing just that and coming so far,” Kumble said. “Of course it was so near and yet so far but it was a good game of cricket today.”
He also pointed out that it was a deliberate ploy to open the bowling, since he wanted to get rid of the hard-hitting Gilchrist at the earliest. “If you let someone like Gilchrist get away, he would run away with the match. It was for me to put up my hand and bowl. Fortunately it worked well,” Kumble said.
Life came a full circle for Gilchrist and his team following a spectacular reversal of fortunes from the previous season, when they finished at the bottom of the table. Gilchrist felt the lack of pressure had a positive effect on his side.
“I really encouraged our team to try to play everything down and fly under the radar if you like, because we were happy with that, without having any expectations on us,” Gilchrist said. “This is only the cricket I play now, so given what we went through last year, this is just a really tremendous effort from the whole franchise to turn it around. It’s just been a great experience.
“The first thing I said at the start of our first meeting was, ‘Guys, we’re all in it together’. That was my first line of our first team meeting and yeah, we’re all going to enjoy this together.”
He was also full of praise for the way Bangalore scripted a very similar revival against the odds. “I’m thrilled for him (Kumble) and their franchise, the way they turned it around,” Gilchrist said. “They experienced a lot of the pain and disappointment that we went through last year.”