It appeared so close, yet ended as too far! Kings XI Punjab skipper Adam Gilchrist’s ‘magic wand’ did not work this time around. He might have done it last year similar feat leading the same Deccan Chargers from the front to win eight matches in a row to qualify for semis. But, the same team that he led last year had inflicted humiliating 82-run defeat to his new team Punjab, which he almost lifted hopes by moving closer. Had he committed a ‘blunder’ of sort this time around as skipper by not reading the pitch condition well at Himachal Pradesh Cricket Stadium at Dharmasala on Saturday evening? The answer appears ‘yes’ as he chose to field first and chase the set target, instead setting big target for the rivals. As a result, his ‘game plan’ gone berserk as ‘charged up’ Deccan Chargers set a huge total of 199 to win.
Punjab only managed to score 116 all out in 19 overs, though Gilchrist put up a brave fighting to score a useful 51, to lift the team’s morale after losing two early wickets. It was Deccan Chargers leg-spinner Amit Mishra, who caused the damage with first-ever hat-trick of the season in the IPL-4 so far. Brought back into the attack in the 16th over, Mishra removed Ryan McLaren, Mandeep Singh and Ryan Harris off successive deliveries to record his second hat-trick in the history of the T20 tournament.
Mishra has now joined Yuvraj Singh as the only player in the IPL to have recorded two hat-tricks. Apart from these two players, Kolkata Knight Rider’s Lakshmipathy Balaji, Chennai Super Kings’ Makhaya Ntini and Mumbai Indians’ Rohit Sharma had achieved the feat in the previous editions of the event. With this loss, Punjab Kings XI virtually knocked out of the contention, while Deccan Chargers with their win moved to respectable sixth position in the points table.