Bangalore: Before Tuesday, he had hit a mere 162 runs in 10 matches - a record hardly suggestive of the explosive player he still is. But any doubts about that were dismissed with disdain on a fateful day for Royal Challengers Bangalore at home. Adam Gilchrist had finally come to the IPL party.
Having posted 175 on the board, Bangalore were reasonablly satisfied and felt even safer when old guard Zaheer Khan dismissed the in-form Shaun Marsh early. Azhar Mahmood was promoted, and what happened afterwards was a show started by Mahmood and brought to a winning end by Gilchrist.
The Punjab skipper carried his bat to score 85* off 54 balls, ably supported by Mahmood who hit 61 off 41 before being dismissed by Jaidev Unadkat. But by then, a 118-run partnership between the two had set the foundation of a comprehensive 7-wicket win with 11 balls to spare.
Two sixes by Gilchrist in Muttiah Muralitharan's last over hushed the celebrations of Mahmood's wicket, clearing way for Punjab's win, which kept their mathematical chance of reaching the play-offs alive while putting RCB's in serious jeopardy.
But Gilchrist was modest when congratulated during the post-match conference. "I'm not sure I'd call it form," he said of his knock that included 10 fours and 3 sixes. "I think Azhar Mahmood deserves this [Man-of-the-Match award]. He came in and played his natural game. I was trying to play my natural game but was barely clearing the circle. But he helped me loosen up a bit."
Gilchrist, who had decided to sit himself out for a few games this season due to lack of runs, felt he made an error by chossing to bowl when Chris Gayle (77 off 53) got going in the Powerplay. "After the first four overs, I thought I had made an error in judgement in bowling. But once the lights came on, it seemed to come on a little better."
The comprehensive win saw Punjab leapfrog Kolkata Knight Riders to sixth spot with a better net run rate. Both have 12 points from 14 games but need to win their remaining two games and hope other results pan out in their favour in order to pip RCB (16 points from 15 matches) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (16 points from 14 matches) to the play-offs.