JOHANNESBURG // Adam Gilchrist paid tribute to the entire Deccan Chargers set-up after last year's bottom-placed side capped a remarkable turnaround by lifting the title on Sunday. The Australian, who was named player of the tournament at a glittering closing ceremony at the Wanderers, led his side with grace as they defended a below-par 144-run target to edge out the Royal Challengers Bangalore by a mere six runs. It was also a decent finish for the runners-up who were seventh in 2008 and had barely avoided the wooden spoon.
"We certainly felt at the start of the tournament that we were coming in as one of the least favoured teams," the veteran wicketkeeper-batsman said. "I encouraged our team to try to play everything down and fly under the radar if you like, because we were happy with that, without having any expectations on us. "This is the only cricket I play now, so given what we went through last year, this is just a really tremendous effort from the whole franchise to turn it around. It's just been a great experience.
"The first thing I said at the start of our first meeting was, 'Guys, we're all in it together'. That was my first line of our first team meeting and yeah, we're all going to enjoy this together." The captain also felt for his counterpart Anil Kumble, but urged the Indian spinner to keep his head up high. "I'm thrilled for him (Kumble) and their franchise, the way they turned it around. "They experienced a lot of the pain and disappointment that we went through last year.
Kumble also reciprocated the sentiment. "I think any cricket game when you reach the final and lose, obviously it hurts. Without a decent partnership, we still came close to one hit, but that's basically what cost us the match at the end." Meanwhile, the inaugural Champions League Twenty20 tournament has been expanded to include four more clubs or counties. After the event was postponed last year owing to a terrorist attack in Mumbai, India will now host 12 teams from Oct 8-23.
The draw for the US$6 million (Dh22mn) prize money event will be made in London next month and the venues will be decided later. There will be two teams each from Australia (Victoria and New South Wales), South Africa (Cape Cobras and Eagles) and England. India will have three teams where the Chargers and Challengers will be joined by Delhi Daredevils. Otago (New Zealand), Trinidad and Tobago (West Indies) and Wayamba (Sri Lanka) are the champions of their respective countries.