Last year, Andrew Symonds was sent home from England just three days before the start of Australia's World Twenty20 campaign for another misdemeanour. Ian Healy, his former Australia and Queensland teammate, claimed the prodigious all-rounder was "just cooked and tired of cricket, and sort of wants to be dropped".
Playing alongside Adam Gilchrist, another former Australia teammate, with the Deccan Chargers, Symonds is showing no signs of fatigue or frustration. Instead, he seems to be enjoying the limelight and rediscovering the competitive edge that saw him become one of the most potent cricketers of this generation. You could see the glint in his eyes when he caught Dinesh Karthik off his own bowling in the 19th over and then pointed the Delhi Daredevils captain towards the pavilion. That catch sealed the fate of the IPL's match No 15 and, predictably, Symonds was adjudged man of the match for the second consecutive game.
Karthik had smashed Symond's first ball to the fence and the Daredevils needed just 16 from the remaining 11 balls to halt their run of two successive defeats. But following their captain's departure for a 27-ball 46, the visitors fell short by 10 runs in chasing 172. Symonds, who took three wickets as the Daredevils were restricted to 161-9, had earlier blasted a 24-ball 35 as the Chargers posted a challenging 171-6 on their home ground in Cuttack, with Rohit Sharma contributing a classy 45 towards the end.
"Roy's [Symonds] second-last over just changed the whole thing," said Herschelle Gibbs, who partnered Symonds in a brief 28-run partnership for the third wicket. "He makes clearing the ropes look quite easy at the best of times. It's just lovely to be playing with him. Obviously it's quite important that we try and stabilise in the middle there and if one of us can get in, we can both have a go. If one gets out, the other can score over there."
While he has been playing a stellar role on the field, Symonds has been a bigger influence behind the scene for the Chargers, according to Gilchrist. "Symmo and [Chaminda] Vaas have been two standouts on the field," said Gilchrist, who has now guided the defending champions to three wins from four games. "But it's what they are doing off the field with our group and the way our group is relishing being around those players."
The Daredevils looked to be cruising towards victory at the start of their innings when David Warner launched into the attack. He flew out of the blocks, blazing 29 runs off his first 12 balls before Virender Sehwag had even faced a delivery. But once the Australian departed in the 11th over, run out going for an unnecessary single, with the visitors still needing 87 runs, it went downhill for the Daredevils. Karthik made a determined bid, but lacked support at the other end. Delhi have now lost three of their five games and Karthik, captaining the team in the absence of the injured Gautam Gambhir, said: "In Twenty20, you are always going to have close games. "It's about who handles the pressure better in the end and I think we didn't do it this game." email@example.com
Deccan Chargers: Mohnish Mishra b Mishra 1 Adam Gilchrist c Karthik b Ladda 24 Herschelle Gibbs c Henriques b Nagar 31 Andrew Symonds c De Villiers b Henriques 35 Rohit Sharma c De Villiers b Nannes 45 T Suman not out 29 Venugopal Rao run out (Villiers) 1 Chaminda Vaas not out 3 Extras: (1lb, 1nb) 2 Total: (for 6 wickets, 20 overs) 171 Fall of wickets: 1-3, 2-44, 3-72, 4-103, 5-163, 6-168 Bowling: Amit Mishra 3-0-12-1 Dirk Nannes 4-0-39-1 Yogesh Nagar 3-0-28-1 Sarabjit Ladda 2-0-20-1 Umesh Yadav 4-0-36-0 Moises Henriques 4-0-35-1 Delhi Daredevils: David Warner run out (RP Singh) 57 Virender Sehwag c Gibbs b P. Ojha 3 AB de Villiers b Rahul Sharma 27 Dinesh Karthik c and b Symonds 46 Mithun Manhas c Suman b Rahul Sharma 8 Moises Henriques c R.P. Singh b Symonds 11 Yogesh Nagar b Vaas 1 Amit Mishra c Gilchrist b Symonds 0 Umesh Yadav not out 3 Sarabjit Ladda run out (Vaas) 0 Dirk Nannes not out 1 Extras: (1b, 2lb, 1w) Total: (for 9 wickets, 20 overs) 161 Fall of wickets: 1-34, 2-85, 3-98, 4-112, 5-132, 6-156, 7-156, 8-158, 9-158 Bowling: Chaminda Vaas 4-0-21-1 RP Singh 3-0-31-0 Pragyan Ojha 4-0-36-1 Rohit Sharma 1-0-7-0 Rahul Sharma 4-0-42-2 Andrew Symonds 4-0-21-3