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Win-win for Kolkata

Ganguly thrills the ‘home’ crowd and makes a match out of it,but it’s the home team who walk away with victory

With the Pune Warriors India 55/5,Sourav Ganguly came in to bat finally. Steve Smith got a bad decision and was adjudged leg before wicket by Shavir Tarapore when he had inside-edged a Sunil Narine delivery. Chasing 151 to win,Pune were already in the mire,having lost their top-half inside nine overs. Ganguly,in spite of an average IPL season,raised hopes of a fightback. The former India skipper had unexpectedly dropped himself to No.7 in the batting line-up. He perhaps believed that he had the best chance of turning the match around in the final stretch.

When Ganguly walked into the middle,Gautam Gambhir promptly brought into play a slip and a silly point. Ganguly played out the first over he faced from Sunil Narine,the mystery off-spinner. The expectation in the air was palpable. Ganguly looked determined.

His batting partner Angelo Mathews flicked the second ball he faced from Jacques Kallis to fine leg to bring on strike Ganguly. The moment of truth beckoned. The battle-hardened Kallis may not possess the pace of Dale Steyn but can surprise with an odd-bouncer. Ganguly received a shorter ball from Kallis,one that he swung at and missed by a distance. A run was yet to be come off Ganguly’s bat.

The next ball pitched on a good length and was dispatched by Ganguly to the long off boundary. Kallis resorted to the bouncer again. The left-hander swayed slightly and executed the deftest of upper-cuts for his second four. The Eden Gardens rose in unison,but there would be no happy-ending for Ganguly on Saturday.

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At the other end Mathews hit three consecutive sixes off the bowling of Yusuf Pathan to bring the equation down to 42 from 30. Ganguly pottered around at the other end — fluent at times but largely mistiming the ball.

Ganguly and Mathews had added 73 runs in 56 deliveries for the sixth wicket.

With 31 required off 18,the 39-year-old Kolkata native decided that the time had come to take on the bowlers. Rajat Bhatia’s gentle medium pace didn’t pose too much of a threat. Ganguly carted the first ball of Bhatia’s over,the 18th of the innings,over long-on for a six. However,there was no final flourish off Ganguly’s bat. Ganguly’s attempted pull off the fourth ball took a top edge and ended up in the hands of the mid-wicket fielder. In what must have been music to the ears of Gambhir and his team mates,the fall of Ganguly’s wicket didn’t result in pin-drop silence but a round of applause. The home fans had warmed up to the Knight Riders,the team which has been on a roll.

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After Ganguly’s dismissal,the chase lost momentum as Pune lost Wayne Parnell and Mathews in consecutive overs.

Pune fell short by 7 runs — their fifth loss in a row,while Kolkata have now won their last five matches.

Gautam leads from the front

The home team’s captain,Gambhir,had a great outing on Saturday.

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An opening stand of 113 between the skipper and Brendon McCullum gave the team a solid platform. Gambhir scored his fourth half-century on the trot while McCullum made 42. However,KKR could only manage 37 runs in their last seven overs and ended up at 150 for 5. The fall in run rate didn’t prove costly for Gambhir’s side on Saturday.

At the end of the game,the KKR players did a lap of honour. It was in acknowledgement of the support they received from the spectators,a large number of whom threw their weight behind the home team.

First published on: 06-05-2012 at 01:29:31 am
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