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Gilly set to set Eden record straight
Memories of the historic 2001 Eden Test will be revived when VVS Laxman and Adam Gilchrist take on Sourav Ganguly's men in the IPL.
By Kashinath Bhattacharjee
For Steve Waugh, it was the “Last Frontier”. Australia came to India in 2000-01 with a 15-Test match winning streak. And Steve was eager to make it 18. That the Aussies were unable to win a Test series in India till 1969 was ‘a painful stat’ for the Aussie-skipper.

Adam Gilchrist was relatively new to Test cricket then. After all, he was unfortunate to have Ian Healy as his predecessor in the Australian team.

But Gilchrist was the only one in that squad who was yet to taste a Test defeat then. And he did his best in the first Test in Mumbai to keep the record intact. The Australian juggernaut rolled on to Kolkata with an enviable 16-0 record to boast of.

How it all changed then, in the course of the next five days! India won it after being asked to follow on, for the whole fourth day, one V(ery) V(ery) S(pecial)Laxman and a resilient Rahul Dravid just batted on and on. Harbhajan Singh did the rest on the fifth day, post-tea. Gilchrist had tasted defeat in a Test match for the first time in his career.

Now, that is the irony of his fate, Gilchrist is now sharing the same dressing room with Laxman, in Hyderabad. Not only that, it was Laxman’s gesture that had allowed Gilchrist to be the skipper of the side. Now, life comes full with Laxman’s fate in Gilly’s hands!

“That was an amazing Test match. I can never forget that. Just last night, I was discussing it with VVS. The memories and all…It was a privilege to be part of that Test match,”declared Gilchrist in a crowded press conference at Eden Gardens, Kolkata, after the morning’s work out on Wednesday.

“We are yet to decide the team. So, I cannot tell you whether he (VVS) will be playing”, said Gilchrist when asked whether Laxman would find a place in the playing XI against Kolkata.

It is more likely since Eden has always been a special place for Laxman. And with two back-to-back defeats against Jaipur and Mumbai, the temptation to include Laxman in the playing XI is more for Gilchrist now.

The third edition of the IPL started with a match involving these two teams and Kolkata won that ‘away’ match comfortably. Both the teams have six points now, although Hyderabad has played a match less than Kolkata’s 7. Revenge on the cards for Hyderabad?

Gilchrist denied that. “I do not want to look at it in this way. What I want is to try and do those things correctly which we didn’t in the first outing. More or less, both the teams are in almost the same situation. We have won three, they too. We won three, lost two while they won two, lost three at a stretch. Both the teams are doing everything correctly one day and failing to do the same the next day. We are searching for our way out of this situation.”

Hyderabad is the only team to play their ‘home’ matches ‘away’ from home in this edition of the IPL due to political disturbances in Hyderabad. “But that’s not a big issue. We fared really badly in the inaugural edition in all our home matches. I am worried about our batting which is not clicking somehow. The top order has to fire. We are leaving it for the middle order and that cannot be ideal. I did not do well at the tp in the last two matches. So, I have to bat better, too.”

Although at the midway of the tournament, Gilchrist felt “It is too early to predict the four semifinalists. Yes, it is difficult for Mohali to come back now. The rest of the seven teams are very much in the race. Everyone has a chance. You just cannot rule out any team.

“But the way Mumbai are playing, obviously they are at the top. They have won six matches. Their batting is deep where Harbhajan Singh is coming at number 8 or 9 and blasting his 20s, 30s even 40s! And their bowling is experienced enough for this format. Add to it Sachin’s great form. They are sitting pretty well at the top and they are the team to beat now. However, Tuesday night showed they can be beaten and we will be looking forward to do so when we meet. Bangalore are having a good time, too.”

Does he plan to use the Mongoose bat- like his former Aussie teammate Mathew Hayden?

“Lots of innovations are taking place. It’s good for the game. I did not have the chance to use it. But have seen him blasting the ball with it. May be, some day I would get a chance, too!” However, it seems unlikely for him to use Mongoose bat in this edition.

But he had no doubt that the one day format is now more interesting with the introduction of T20. “We are seeing more runs. 300 was common, now it is quite common and teams are reaching a total of 350 more often there. The game is faster now - the batting, fielding.”

But is there any set-formula for winning a T20?

Gilchrist said, “Probably, to have wickets in hand. But that’s the basic for any format of cricket, it’s not at all a secret, is it? Every team is looking to get 10 runs per over in the initial six overs and then trying to maintain the same tempo. But, the variables are too many and one performance can change the course of the game. So, it is difficult to have a set pattern or formula for winning a T20 match.”

And when the skipper of the defending champions is not sure about a winning formula, how can others be
 
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