With arguably the most beautiful backdrop that any cricket stadium in the world could ask for,the HPCA in Dharamsala is a treat for everyone present on its premises. Everyone but the two men batting out there in the middle. And for that,the willow wielders can square their blame on the green top.
So,keeping the nature of the Dharamsala wicket in mind,it was all the more important for Kings XI Punjab’s skipper,keeper,opener and mentor Adam Gilchrist a player making a comeback from injury after a nine game hiatus to play a role that justifies his many roles and titles in the side.
And he didn’t disappoint. Gilchrist had no hesitation in bowling first on a track that had good bounce and plenty of swaying green blades. Then,studding his side with slow seamers rather than the quicker options available in his squad,Gilchirst placed two slips and a gully and allowed the show to begin.
Responding outstandingly to the burden placed on their shoulders,Praveen Kumar,Azhar Mahmood,Ryan Harris and Parwinder Awana (seamers who bowled non-stop until the 13th over of the innings) collected among them each of the seven wickets that fell in the CSK innings. The outstanding ones,however,were the first and last names on that list as Praveen and Awana were largely responsible for restricting the defending champs to 120.
Gilchrist then wrapped the match up convincingly with an unbeaten fifty a 46-ball 64. In the process,Punjab closed the chase in 16.3 overs to practically end Chennai’s title defence and keep themselves in the hunt for a playoff spot.
In his comeback innings,Gilchrist riddled his score with 9 fours and two sixes. Yet,it wasn’t a usual Gilchrist slam-bang show. He played in tune with the conditions,carefully scoring only off the bad balls to ensure that there were no hiccups.
Brief scores: CSK 120/7 (D Bravo 48,S Raina 17,P Awana 2/12,P Kumar 2/18); Punjab 123/4 in 16.3 overs ( A Gilchrist 64 n.o,D Bravo 2/18)