There are lessons to be learnt in every defeat. But, the Kolkata Knight Riders don’t seem to believe in this mantra. In what was yet another inexplicably slow batting performance at the Brabourne Stadium, the Knight Riders managed to put up a mere 155 runs on the board against Mumbai Indians.
This, despite having lost just a solitary wicket at the start of the final over. The Knight Riders had a lot going for them. They won the toss and elected to bat. More importantly, Chris Gayle was available to open the innings with Sourav Ganguly. And while the duo did well to add 70, the problem was that it took 11 overs, too slow for the 20-over format.
Worse still, Ganguly was dismissed after having consumed 34 deliveries for his 31 and though Owais Shah and Gayle managed to strike some hefty blows towards the end, it was a case of too little too late.
No praise can be too high for the Mumbai bowlers though. They plotted Kolkata’s downfall methodically. It all began with the maverick Lasith Malinga bowling a succession of slower off cutters to Gayle, who was completely taken by surprise. The only answer he had was to present a straight bat or let the ball through to the keeper safely.
The smart strategy meant the Kolkata innings never gained momentum. Though Ganguly began well with a couple of well-timed fours in the opening over, he too was tied down by some tight bowling. Harbhajan Singh was especially impressive. Following the batsmen with most of his deliveries, he never gave either Gayle or Ganguly any chance to free their arms. A frustrated Ganguly finally fell to the guile of the off-spinner, going for an ugly slog to midwicket.
If Kolkata did manage to cross 150, it was due to the late assault by Gayle and Shah. They picked up important boundaries off Ryan McLaren and Dwayne Bravo. But, Zaheer Khan got them both in final over to reduce the damage done during the death. Gayle ended up with 75 off 60 deliveries. And, though it looked great in the overall analysis, the fact of the matter was that he should have opened up a lot earlier. The lethargic attitude of the Kolkata openers easily cost them 30-40 runs, which proved fatal in the final analysis.
For Kolkata to put up a fight in their defence, leave alone winning, they needed Shane Bond to deliver the early strikes. On the contrary, he was wayward and ended up conceding three boundaries in the opening over and thus set the tone for the remainder of the match. Sachin Tendulkar (71*) batted in the manner he knows best, driving and cutting with ease.
It did help that Ishant Sharma offered him a number of freebies either on a length or short of it. Once again, it was Murali Kartik who managed to slow down the flow of runs with his accurate left-arm spin. He even broke the dangerous opening partnership, beating Shikhar Dhawan in the flight. But, but that time, Mumbai had swiftly progressed to 61 in under seven overs.
Sachin continued to dazzle even as Ishant managed to pick up a couple of consolation wickets towards the end. But, it was yet another below par effort by Kolkata. They were thoroughly outplayed, tactically more than anything else.
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