Navi Mumbai:Adam Gilchrist produced a breathtaking hundred --- the fastest so far in the Indian Premier League --- to take Deccan Chargers to their first win. It meant that Mumbai Indians slumped to their fourth straight loss.
The former Australia wicketkeeper clubbed a 42-ball hundred with 10 sixes and nine fours making a joke of the 155-run target that Mumbai had set. Hyderabad were home by 10 wickets --- the biggest victory margin so far in the IPL --- with an astounding 44 balls to spare. Hyderabad captain VVS Laxman made 36, playing bass to Gilchrist's electrifying riffs.
At cricket's newest home, Navi Mumbai's DY Patil Sports Academy Stadium, hosts Mumbai were asked to bat and put up a disappointing show. Reduced to 79-4 in the 14th over, it took a couple of brisk thirties from local boy Abhishek Nayar and Dwayne Bravo to take them to respectability.
The wicket was firm, the boundaries short, and it was a poor first innings score by Mumbai in a game both sides desperately needed to win --- not just to avoid being at the bottom of the eight-team pile, but also to set their own house in order after the Harbhajan-Sreesanth bust-up.
The Hyderabad seamers set up the win with some tight bowling. Leading them was RP Singh, with figures of 4-1-15-2. Sanjay Bangar bowled economically till an expensive third over that went for 16, while leg spinner Shahid Afridi carved a hole out of the Mumbai batting, dismissing the dangerous Sanath Jayasuriya and Robin Uthappa.
Nayar continued to impress in this tournament, striking the ball clean and long. His 34 from 19 balls finally got the innings up and running after it looked headed for a disastrous finish.
It was here that Gilchrist took over. Each shot came off the middle of his bat, making one wonder if that mythical squash ball was doing its trick again.
Mumbai's attack was weak too. Shaun Pollock has been under par with the ball throughout, and Sunday was no different. Ashish Nehra couldn't have threatened a mouse and Gilchrist feasted on the rest of the attack, bringing up his fifty in 28 balls (7x4, 3x6), and then his hundred in 42 (9x4, 9x6) with the ninth six of his innings --- a shot that went 101 metres over long on.
Mumbai now have immense problems at hands. They've had three captains so far in the IPL. Sachin Tendulkar hasn't played a game, Harbhajan Singh has been suspended and will probably receive a hefty ban, and Pollock couldn't get his side to perform in this dire situation.
For Chargers, it was a performance long overdue. A side that boasts of some of the most feared hitters in the game, they had played poorly up to this point. However, Gilchrist's magical touch could now turn things around for them in the tournament.