The Deccan Chargers got their 2009 IPL campaign off to the perfect start with a comprehensive eight-wicket victory against the Kolkata Knight Riders at Newlands yesterday.
R.P. Singh earned himself the man of the match accolade by picking up four wickets, including those of the Knight Riders skipper Brendon McCullum and the West Indies captain Chris Gayle.
Australian Brad Hodge (31) was the only Knight Riders batsman to look in control at the crease, and just as he was starting to look as though he could his team back into the match, he was brilliantly caught by Herschelle Gibbs on his home ground—much to the fans' delight.
The wicket of Hodge left the Knight Riders reeling, and they were ultimately bowled out for 101.
A target of 102 was never realistically going to test the Chargers—and so it proved as the Hyderabadi team eased home by eight wickets. Gibbs was unbeaten on 43 and Rohit Sharma was undefeated on 36 as the Chargers chased down the target with a minimum of fuss.
The Chargers will be extremely satisfied with their efforts, especially given the fact that last year in the inaugural tournament, despite having one of the strongest squads on paper, the Chargers only managed to win two matches in the entire tournament and finished at the bottom of the table.
As a result of their poor showing in the 2008 competition, the Chargers decided not to show too much interest in bidding for new players. Instead they wanted to leave it to the squad who did not perform last season to make amends in 2009.
After yesterday's victory, Chargers captain Adam Gilchrist explained that his team had been training intensely in the offseason, and that it had been building up to a performance like the one last night.
Gilchrist won the Cricket World Cup with Australia on three successive occasions, and he played a huge part in his country's success in the last World Cup in 2007. He smashed an incredible 149 from just 104 balls in the final as Australia cruised past Sri Lanka.
We are at a very early stage in the tournament—but already after one round of games, the Deccan Chargers look like they could well be the team to beat in 2009. Having Gilchrist at the helm can only be a positive for the Chargers.
He is a proven champion, and he and is team would have been hurting after finishing bottom in 2008 and they will be doing everything in their power to turn the tables the full scale in this year's competition.