IPL moments that don't fade away: Adam Gilchrist turning his arm over
It goes without saying that Adam Gilchrist is a legend whatever he does and wherever he goes. Probably the best wicket-keeper batsman of all time in ODIs and tests, he has numerous records to his name, especially as a dashing left-handed opener for the Invincible Team from Australia.
But ‘Gilly’ had a fair share of fun at the IPL too, almost nurturing a cult following for himself and becoming one of the most loved, admired and followed international cricketers in India. He led Deccan Chargers to the trophy in the second season, showing off his batting prowess with devastating results.
In the twilight of his career he led Kings XI Punjab, not quite as successfully as he did the Hyderabad-based franchise. But the way he signed off – both from the team and from the tournament as a whole – will forever be etched in everyone’s memory.
Kings XI Punjab are all set to take on Mumbai Indians tomorrow, but two years ago this match-up played host to Gilchrist’s swansong from competitive cricket. And by all accounts, his exit was the kind of stuff that makes up a “Don’t Fade Away” moment – as the ongoing Axe Signature campaign goes.
The unforgettable context
It was the last game for KXIP in IPL 6, and the last competitive game for the great man himself. Punjab hadn’t had the best of seasons and they were up against a Mumbai side that had won 10 of their 15 games and were in tremendous nick. By contrast, KXIP had won just seven of their 15.
Gilchrist didn’t star with the bat, losing his stumps after scoring just five. However, Shaun Marsh and Azhar Mahmood played absolute gems to set MI a target of 183. MI never really managed to challenge that target, falling to 78 for five in 12 overs.
Things didn’t get much better for them from there, and by the time the last over came along they were 133 for 9, needing 51 from the final six balls. That last over was always going to be just a formality, but not for good old Gilly.
The unforgettable ball
Not even the most obsessed cricket followers had ever seen Gilchrist bowl before. Most were left rubbing their eyes as he went up to the umpire, signaling his intentions. The crowds at Dharamshala had forgotten about the game; it was all about one man.
Gilchrist grabbed the ball to bowl the 20th over, with MI needing 51 more runs. Praveen Kumar, of all people, was asked to keep wickets in Gilchrist’s stead.
The very first ball that the Australian bowled was a slow off-spinner. Harbhajan Singh went for an almighty heave; it was a one-handed slog, with the slowness of the ball almost testing his patience. Memorably, however, the ball only went as far as Gurkeerat Singh posted at long-on.
Gurkeerat Singh pouched it safely to ensure Gilchrist had a wicket off his first and last ball of the IPL. That was as memorable a T20 moment as any for the fans and the followers.
The unforgettable celebration
Gilchrist seemed to have discovered the child in him when he got that wicket. Given that those were his last few moments on the cricket pitch, he decided to celebrate the best he could.
First he went Gangnam Style – not so much in the fashion patented by Chris Gayle, but in a weirder way. You could almost call it the Harbhajan style; a mix of Gangnam and Bhangra, almost making fun of Bhajji who is not the most popular of Indian players amongst the Aussies.
It was all done in good spirit, but Gilchrist didn’t stop the show there. He continued to celebrate, now mimicking Kieron Pollard’s style of celebrating, like riding a horse. Leaping and bouncing around, Gilchrist managed to give the crowds something really worthwhile to remember, for a long time.
The unforgettable explanation
When asked about his celebration, the man who picked a wicket with the only ball he bowled cheerfully said that Harbhajan had taken his wicket many times in the past, which is why he chose to mimic Bhajji. He added that he had had wonderful memories with KXIP.
Gilchrist should know, however, that he gave the audiences many wonderful memories too. And that exit – bowling one ball, and taking a wicket with it – is as wonderful a memory as they come.