Deccan Chargers skipper Adam Gilchrist has attributed his underdog team's fairytale title-triumph at the Indian Premier League to a "culture of learning from mistakes" and playing a "smarter brand" of Twenty20 cricket.
"Just trying to create the culture of learning from our mistakes last year and trying to play smarter brand of Twenty20 cricket rather than walking out and trying to literally just fire from ball one. We just got to get smarter about it I think," Gilchrist said after Deccan's title-clinching six-run win over Royal Challengers Bangalore last night.
Deccan finished at the bottom of the table last season and Gilchrist said leading the team to the title this year has given him the same high that he got after being part of the Australia's three World Cup-winning squad.
"I think one was better than the other. But this is the only cricket I play now – Twenty20. Given what we went through last year...Obviously the World Cups are also important for one's career. Sounds quite dramatic but there is nothing else going on in the life at that moment so if you can make that thing important – then that's trying to get them focused and that is what you do. It has just been a great experience," Gilchrist said.
Looking back at the turaround in Deccan's fortunes, Gilchrist said last year's debacle left a hollow feeling and it was a bit of a shock for him to be part of losing streak after having a hugely successful international career.
"I guess last year's just a very hollow feeling. It was a great learning experience for me. Because I have been lucky to play in a lot of successful teams in the Australian set-up. And to go on that sort of losing streak was new to me, and I think. I knew that at the time, I wanted to just embrace it and work out, why and what and that's what everyone did.
On the contribution of Rohit Sharma and Pragyan Ojha in the team's performance this year, Gilchrist said their performance has shown that they would be prized assets for the Indian side.
"Both are immensely talented cricketers. I have really enjoyed working with Rohit as vice captain. I am trying to inculcate the leadership role. I hope he learns some leadership skills on the way which I think he will. I think he wants to take on that role. His cricket speaks for itself. He is a talented cricketer.
"As far as Pragyan is concerned, he has a desire to learn and absorb as much as he can from the people with experience around. They will be wonderful cricketers for India. I have no doubt about that," he said.
Asked about rival Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Anil Kumble, Gilchrist said the veteran leg-spinner is a natural leader.
"It is no surprise that a guy like Anil Kumble comes up as a standout performer in this tournament. And his leadership is, I think from an outside observer looking in both -- in this competition and when he was leading the national team, he looks to me like a natural leader.
"A guy that defends everyone, makes them feel comfortable, makes them feel part of the set-up. So no surprise that the team did well under his guidance," he said.
Gilchrist had predicted a six-wicket win for Deccan in the semifinals which came true. Asked if he had made any such prediction before the finals, Gilchrist said he had a feeling that Pragyan Ojha would become Man of the Match.
"You all think I am nuts but I woke up this morning at 2.30. I just couldn't sleep, I was quite excited, bit nervous. My mind was racing. At 3.16 I decided I am going to make another bold prediction and I wrote down that Pragyan Ojha would be the Man of the Match.
"And I thought he was close with three for 24 off four overs. I thought he did a wonderful job. It just goes to prove that I am human. I can't predict everything (laughs). He did really well but Anil's contribution was a standout performance in this match," he said.