Indian Premier League, 2009IPL 2009 Final - Royal Challengers Face Deccan Chargers24-May-2009 11:24:00 IST
Johannesburg: The wooden spooners are now title contenders. In a dramatic turnaround of fortunes in the IPL, last year's bottom-placed teams Royal Challengers and Team Hyderabad will vie for the title in the grand finale of the second edition of the tournament in Johannesburg on Sunday.
Hyderabad, who finished rock bottom in 2008, have been enforcers from the start in IPL-2, looking a reformed outfit with Adam Gilchrist leading from the front. They seemed a little lost midway but their power-packed signings have won them the crucial moments.
The Royal Challengers, seventh last year with their much-derided 'Test team', benefited from a change of guard midway.
While Gilchrist single-handedly blew away Team Delhi on Friday to take Hyderabad to the final, the Challengers' skillful run chase took them past MS Dhoni's Team Chennai in the second semifinal on Saturday night.
Last year, the team that wasn't even considered an underdog, criticised for poor player-selection, accused of spending the least among eight franchisees, won the trophy.
This year, two teams that had ended up as 2008's wooden-spooners have done the unthinkable. Bangalore and Hyderabad - last year's No. 7 and 8 - will clash in the final of IPL 2009.
The two IT cities have surprised the bookmakers, making this T20 extravaganza exciting for the second year in succession. They have ensured that anything is possible in this extremely unpredictable format.
On paper, Hyderabad definitely look the better side. The loss to Bangalore at Centurion on Thursday notwithstanding, they have a top-order boasting of some of the biggest names this format can think of.
Even if one of these players - Gilchrist and Gibbs or Symonds and Sharma - bats to his full potential, it will be enough to wipe out any opposition. Gilchrist showed precisely that in the first semifinal, cracking one of the best T20 knocks ever.
For Bangalore too, the batsmen have been at the helm in the last few matches. In fact, it has been at least one of the top-order men in every game delivering the goods.
Sunday May 24, 2009 (day/night)
Start time 04.30pm, 14.30GMT, 08:00pm IST
Stats and trivia
- Eight batsmen have scored more than 350 in the tournament, but only one of them - Adam Gilchrist - will be on view in the final. Kallis, Bangalore's highest scorer, has an aggregate of 346.
- Teams chasing have won five out of six times in night games in Johannesburg. In all three games that Bangalore have played here, they've chased and won.
- Gilchrist has scored 86 runs off 63 balls in two innings against Bangalore. In contrast Kallis, Bangalore's highest run-scorer, has only scored 20 off 21 balls in two innings against Deccan. Pandey, though, scored 114 in just one game.
- Bangalore's five wins in a row equal's Chennai's winning streak earlier in the IPL, and is a record for this tournament.