Captain Adam Gilchrist blasted the fastest half-century in Indian Premier League history to lead the Deccan Chargers into the final on Sunday with a comfortable six-wicket victory over tournament favorites Delhi Daredevils.
The former Australia wicketkeeper took just 17 balls to raise the mark and eventually finished on 85 as his side reached the victory target of 154 with more than two overs to spare. Gilchrist’s performance came after Tillakaratne Dilshan made 65 to help rescue Delhi from losing two early wickets thanks to Ryan Harris, who finished with three for 27. But it was Gilchrist that set Centurion alight with his blistering innings in the first semifinal. He was merciless from the start, and after plundering Dirk Nannes for five consecutive fours in the first over, he took Pradeep Sangwan for a further three boundaries in the third over. He did, however, lose fellow-opener Herschelle Gibbs — bowled for a duck by Ashish Nehra in the second over — amidst his masterly stroke-play, but it failed to deter the veteran, who raised his side’s half-century in a mere 32 balls. Gilchrist then reached his own whirlwind 50, before tucking into the sixth over bowled by Virender Sehwag — slamming his opposite number for three consecutive sixes and a four. Delhi finally managed a breakthrough when Amit Mishra had Azhar Bilakhia (10) stumped by Dinesh Karthik — and Gilchrist’s 35-ball knock was finally ended in the last over before the strategy break when he skied Mishra to Nannes running in from third-man. It came too late for Delhi, though, as Andrew Symonds (24), Tirumalasetti Suman (24 not out) and Rohit Sharma (five not out) finished the game with 14 balls to spare. Earlier, it was Dilshan and his captain Sehwag that shared an 85-run stand to lift Delhi after another Australian showed his strength with the ball.
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It came in the form of Harris who struck twice in the first over, slipping in a wide delivery at a charging Gautam Gambhir that was slashed straight to RP Singh at third man for a duck, followed by the wicket of David Warner — belting a wide ball straight to Gibbs also for nought. Sehwag and Dilshan grabbed the initiative back for their side with a fine display of batting, raising their half-century stand in just 34 balls. Symonds should have had the breakthrough almost immediately afterwards but a thick outside edge from the Sri Lankan batsman thudded into the gloves of Gilchrist and then out again as the Daredevils reached the halfway stage at a commanding 83 for two. But the strategy time-out again proved costly for the batting side, with Symonds dismissing Sehwag leg before wicket just four balls after the restart.
Dilshan raised his 50 in 35 balls, including seven fours and a six, before being handed another lifeline on 58 — this time Gibbs spilling a running catch on the fence. Singh (two for 33) then came back into the attack and had AB de Villiers (26) caught behind, but Dilshan’s 51-ball knock lifted Delhi to 153 for eight, a total that proved well short thanks to the heroics of Gilchrist.