Kolkata Knight Riders 119 for 3 beat Pune Warriors 118 for 7 by seven wickets
Man of the match: Yusuf Pathan
What was built up as the Kolkata vs Ganguly game turned out to be quite a damp squib in the end as the Gautam Gambhir led Knight Riders were way too superior to the Yuvraj Singh led Pune Warriors, who succumbed to yet another defeat in their debut year in the Indian Premier League. With this victory, the Knight Riders have all but ensured that they are through to the play offs. Unless they lose extremely badly to Mumbai Indians and then Kings XI Punjab pull off yet another big win, they should be through rather easily.
The victory against the Warriors was set up courtesy the excellent attempt of Kolkata’s spinners. Shakib Al Hasan, Iqbal Abdulla and Yusuf Pathan picked up five wickets amongst themselves. And, as it happens when wickets fall, the run rate never assumed dangerous proportions. Pune Warriors managed a disappointing 118 in their allotted 20 overs, losing as many as seven wickets. In response, Gambhir led from the front, striking an impressive half century on a difficult, turning track. With desired support from Manoj Tiwary and Pathan himself, they cruised to victory in the end.
Clearly, it was the trio of Kolkata’s spinners that made the major impact in the game as the Warriors were in complete disease from the very start. Admittedly, it wasn’t the best track for T20 cricket, but the better team still won. Manish Pandey could not survive Abdulla’s early burst. He missed a straight delivery from the left arm spinner and was trapped right in front. At the other end, Jesse Ryder tried to hit out against Pathan, but only managed to give a simple catch to mid off. The Warriors’ trouble began there, but never really ended
They tried to innovate by sending Callum Ferguson ahead of Sourav Ganguly. For a brief period it worked as the talented Aussie placed the ball with ease and looked in no trouble at all. It was too good to last though from the Warriors’ perspective. Ferguson, in an attempt to up the scoring, chipped down the track to Shakib, but the ball turned away and the keeper easily effected the stumping. Ganguly came in next, but unlike his comeback game, he clearly wasn’t at his best. He edged the ball for most part and even survived a stumping chance. His only stroke of authority was when he lifted Abdulla for a six straight down the ground. He too perished after a struggle though, sweeping Shakib straight into the hands of Pathan.
Just like the rest of the tournament, this time too it was left to Robin Uthappa and Yuvraj Singh to lift the Warriors out of trouble. But, Uthappa fell in an effort to go after Pathan. He hit the ball hard, but couldn’t find the gap and handed Lee a catch in the outfield. Yuvraj hung around for a while, but with no support, he too lost motivation and top edged a pull off L Balaji’s bowling as the Warriors ended their innings on a low.
Alfonso Thomas got an early breakthrough for the Warriors, but it was nothing more than a flash in the pan. Even without their injured mainstay, Jacques Kallis, the Knight Riders got home easily. Gambhir was the best batsman on show on the turning pitch. And so it was no surprise to see him going down the track to the impressive Rahul Sharma and Yuvraj. Runs came at ease, with Yusuf and Tiwary chipping in with handy cameos even as Gambhir played the role of an anchor to perfection. In the end, it was all too easy and the better side clearly won.
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