New Delhi:The first semi-final of the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament is about to begin in a few hours from now. Deccan Chargers Hyderabad will be locking horns with Delhi Daredevils. Big-hitting openers for both the teams could well hold the key to deciding one of the finalists of the event.
With 56 games in the league phase of Season II done and dusted, the stage is now set for four of the best teams to battle it out for the prestigious DLF Indian Premier League's Winners Trophy for season 2009. With the Rajasthan Royals having been knocked out earlier, one thing is certain that the Indian Premier League will have a new winner on Sunday at the famous Wanderers Bull-Ring.
The four teams that have made the cut this year are the league leading Delhi Daredevils who have barely missed a trick, winning 10 out of their 14 league games. In last year's inaugural season of the IPL, the Delhi Daredevils had managed to win a mere seven league games out of 14 to scrape into the fourth semi-final spot by a single point. But this time around in the second season of the IPL here in South Africa, the Delhi Daredevils seem to be on fire.
Last year's losing finalists and this year's second-placed Chennai Super Kings have also not disappointed their fans winning eight of their league games. The resurgent Royal Challengers Bangalore under the astute leadership of captain Anil Kumble have won games on the trot after a disappointing first half of the season and finally we have the Deccan Chargers closing out the semi-final line-up.
The Deccan Chargers will need to turn around a form slump which has seen them loose a total of seven games this season after starting out in amazing style, as they take on a formidable Delhi Daredevils combination.
The secret of the Delhi Daredevils' success so far is having several players in form, and maintaining an excellent win ratio through the league phase even without the services of their captain Virender Sehwag who was out injured. Interestingly, the inform Delhi Daredevils are yet to call on the services of Australians Glenn McGrath and Andrew McDonald, with even the New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori being benched for a few games due to selection preferences.
For the Deccan Chargers today's semi-final will be an important grudge match as they have a point to prove. Especially after a diabolical collapse of the team's batting order when they had victory in sight denied the Deccan Chargers a victory the last time the two teams met on May 13th in Durban. The Deccan Chargers then were galloping towards their victory target of 174 against the league leading Delhi Daredevils, at 149-3 in the 17th over, when they suddenly lost seven wickets for 12 runs in 17 balls, to lose by 12 runs.
Gilchrist will have to show glimpses of his phenomenal hitting prowess and give the Deccan Chargers a blistering start with his opening partner Gibbs if the Deccan Chargers are to have any chance of winning the first semi-final. A lot would also depend on the way the Deccan Chargers middle order batsmen Andrew Symonds and Rohit Sharma play. Gilchrist sits fourth in the race for the Orange Cap on 410 runs, while the next best Deccan Chargers batsman is Rohit Sharma, who so brilliantly finished off the game against the Kolkata Knight Riders at the Wanderers last Saturday and then nearly repeated the feat the following day against the Kings XI Punjab, only for his side to fall to an agonising one-run defeat. Sharma's 333 runs haven't been his only contribution this season. He has also taken over 11 wickets which included a hat-trick to set up a thrilling win against the Mumbai Indians.
"It starts today (Friday) again, we just have to freshen up for today. There're four teams in it, and as we've seen throughout the tournament, you can beat anyone else on the night," Gilchrist said.
Gilchrist will certainly be willing himself a big score in the knockout phase, as well as one for big Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds.