Sourav guides Kolkata to stunning win Over Kings XI
Skipper Sourav Ganguly (86*) led from the front to beat Kings XI Punjab by three wickets in their Indian Premier League tie at the Eden Gardens.
What a thrilling game. Kolkata seemed to be out of the game with almost 15 runs per over required in the last 5 overs. That was before Ganguly and Gul got together, putting on 49 runs in 18 balls. With 15 required off the last over, Ganguly was equal to the task, wrapping up the match with 2 balls to spare, reminiscent of how Warne did it for his team against the Deccan Chargers.
Kolkata stuttered mid-way through the innings losing Laxmi Shukla almost immediately after Chawla removed Hussey. Saha and Ganguly tried stringing in a partnership, which included a brilliant display of strokeplay from the duo. Saha and Aakash Chopra, however left in a crucial time for Kolkata. Umar Gul and Ganguly, who raised his third IPL fifty, he opened up and Kolkata reduced a once impossible looking deficit into an achievable target. There were overs filled with an excess of 20 from Sreesanth and Chawla that minimised the total to 20 off 10 balls when Gul, trying to replicate his six-hitting act, holed out to Ramesh Powar at long-off. Ganguly, then struck an important boundary for Kolkata and brought down the deficit to 15 off 7 balls. Sourav slammed a huge six under pressure to take Kolkata within distance of the Mohali score. And then, with a single, he finished off the game.
In the next four overs, Kolkata were yet to recover from the setbacks forced upon them by Sreesanth. They stuttered along the way, with Hussey and Ganguly trying to get the rebuilding process underway. Hussey did manage to get a momentum about Kolkata’s innings when he slammed a 11-ball 12, but just as he tried to raise the tempo, Chawla removed the Victorian with a neat piece of glovework from Sangakkara with Kolkata in a slight bother at 71/3 after 9 overs.
In reply to the challenging target of 175, the home team got off to a solid start with Sourav Ganguly and Salman Butt leading the way. Butt especially looked spirited in the partnership, with five beautifully struck boundaries from the Pakistani left-hander. Ganguly began cautiously, taking his time to settle down into his rhythm, but once he looked set, he did not look far behind his opening partner. He took a special liking to Ramesh Powar, who he hammered for a towering six and a boundary in his first over. Just as Kolkata were looking to get away, Sreesanth struck for Mohali, with Salman Butt trying to play a slog-sweep to the bowler. He played it in the air, failing to keep the ball down and Tanmay Srivastava at mid-wicket took a neat catch to send back Butt for 24. Sreesanth made it two in two for Mohali as he trapped young Debabrata Das for a nought first ball. Kolkata, 45/2 after 6.3.
Marsh and Sangakkara threatened to take the game away from Kolkata, but the home team struck at the right time, when Mendis had Marsh caught in the deep, trying to clear the fence. He departed for 40. Sangakkara then took the responsibility and reached his fourth IPL fifty. Just before his dismissal for 64, Sangakkara tonked Umar Gul for a huge six and before that a boundary. He was dismissed when his team was in a relatively formidable position at 133/3. Yuvraj Singh and Mahela Jayawardene then got into the act and the Mohali skipper looked a bit ragged initially but got on with it as soon as he got his feet moving. His blitz of 27 off 18 balls gave Mohali the impetus to progress towards the 180-run mark. He was run-out. Umar Gul then picked up two wickets in the last over off consecutive deliveries to restrict Mohali to 174/6 off 20 overs.
Sangakkara and Marsh then took their innings up a gear making the most of the loose bowling and slack fielding by the Kolkata team. Sangakkara, especially was severe on any loose deliveries from the bowlers. He used the sweep shot to good effect and made use of any errors in length or line from the Kolkata bowlers. Another amazing aspect of his innings was that he used pure cricketing shots, and it was not just a display of slam-bam power-cricket. In this period, Ganguly tried many options, including part-timers in David Hussey and all-rounder Laxmi Ratan Shukla to slow down the run-rate. Shaun Marsh, who also began the acceleration process, was relatively quiet as he saw his partner take off. Marsh got into the act himself, smashing a huge six off Shukla to take his score to 32 off 26 balls with Sangakkara on 41 off 30 balls. Mohali were 95/1 off 11 overs.
After Mohali won the toss and opted to bat first, Kolkata began well, with Umar Gul beginning proceedings for the home team. Gul, especially looked right on the money, conceding just five runs in his first over. Ishant Sharma, who has had a relatively quiet tournament so far, then shared the attack with Gul and leaked runs straightaway. His over was eventful to say the least, with the lanky paceman conceding two boundaries and five wides apart from singles and a dropped chance. His over leaking 16 runs. What began as a good start for Kolkata, went for a toss.
Ganguly, then resorted to his mystery bowler Ajantha Mendis from Sri Lanka to stem the rot and it worked for him as he kept a tight leash around the batsmen, conceding just three runs. Umar Gul, then came into the attack replacing Sharma and made an immediate impact, picking up the wicket of James Hopes, to which umpire Sivaram had no hesitations.
Shaun Marsh, who has been hitting a purple patch in the IPL so far, got off to a solid start, seeing through the opening overs from the bowlers. It wasn’t really a blazing start from the Western Australian left-hander as we saw in the earlier matches, but he and Sangakkara ensured that their team did not lose any further wickets after Hopes’ departure. Once they saw Gul through, the Mohali batsmen were blossoming into their own. Sangakkara led the boundary-hitting spree with boundaries off Sharma, two in an over and then subsequently Marsh followed his act, with one each off Mendis and Dinda. Mohali were 58/1 at the end of 7 overs.
Ajantha Mendis, the Sri Lankan off/leg-spinner makes his debut for the Kolkata team as Mohali win the toss and opt to bat first on a wicket that looks decent for batting. Aakash Chopra has been drafted into the Kolkata line-up to beef up their batting order. Luke Pomersbach has been rested for the Mohali team, with James Hopes coming into the side.
Kolkata : Salman Butt, Sourav Ganguly (capt), David Hussey, Debabrata Das, 5 Aakash Chopra, Laxmi Shukla, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ajantha Mendis, Umar Gul, Ishant Sharma, Ashok Dinda.
Mohali: James Hopes, Shaun Marsh, Yuvraj Singh (capt), Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Piyush Chawla, Tanmay Srivastava, Ramesh Powar, Irfan Pathan, VRV Singh, Sreesanth.