ICL: Indian Cricket League


Charged-up Kolkata win fierce battle

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Desperately seeking points after a string of losses, two of the IPL’s struggling but high-profile teams, produced a fascinating, if low-scoring, contest that was decided in the home team’s favour off the penultimate ball. Unlike their earlier encounter, there were no batting heroics but there was plenty of brilliance in the field and with the ball in a rain-shortened match that ended way past midnight.

The day began with Kolkata celebrating the birthday of its greatest son, Rabindranath Tagore. It ended with a crowd of thousands, who’d braved a typical seasonal thundershower to back their team, delighting in the exploits of its current favourite as Sourav Ganguly led with the ball to revive his side’s hopes in the tournament.

The Kolkata Knight Riders’ second successive win over Bangalore Royal Challengers is more significant as it comes after four successive losses, and to a side depleted by the exit of key players. Ganguly had limped to a run-a-ball 20 with the bat, but his spell of medium-pacers, going for seven runs off his three overs, choked a stumbling Bangalore chase that, despite a flurry towards the end led by Mark Boucher, was always behind the eight ball.

Bangalore, who have now lost six of their eight matches, had done well to restrict Kolkata to 129, but their top order failed to keep pace with the modest asking rate and, after four overs, they were faced with an asking-rate of over nine.

J Arunkumar tried to step up the scoring, smashing Umar Gul over midwicket and then in machine-like manner peppering the off side with two boundaries, and it took a stunning effort by Brad Hodge to get rid of him. Hovering at backward point, Hodge collected the ball on the slide with his left hand, transferred it to his right, took aim calmly and knocked down the stumps before the hesitant batsman made it back.

Dravid was in, and so was Ganguly. It was this spell, perhaps, that decided the match; Ganguly, clearly charged up by the occasion, conceded seven runs and, in a moment of great irony, claimed the wicket of his opposite number and successor as India captain. By the time he was done, Bangalore needed 78 off 36 overs, a near-impossible task.

Cameron White and Mark Boucher played good hands, the latter almost pulling it off, but Bangalore’s top order had left them with a bit too much to do. White cut loose to take 15 runs off the 11th over from Laxmi Ratan Shukla, eight came off the next from the next from Ashok Dinda, and another 15 off Umar Gul kept them in line with the asking-rate.

Ishant Sharma just gave five off his 14th, and when White was run out backing up too far at the non-striker’s end by Murali Kartik, it seemed a done case. Boucher, whose 26 had needed 30 deliveries, then scored 24 off just 10, but Bangalore still fell five runs short. Bangalore’s top-order mess needs to quick addressal, but their effort in the field after Kolkata decided to bat was heartening. Aakash Chopra, the former India opener, came in to bolster a struggling top order, but he didn’t make much of an impact, and Brad Hodge hit Zaheer Khan straight to the man positioned on the boundary.

If he looked smooth with the ball, Ganguly wasn’t as much during his batting stint. He got off the mark with an uppish drive for four, and found himself tangled in an awkward position against a shorter ball from Praveen Kumar. He nudged around during his 20, and greeted Anil Kumble with a beautifully timed shot through the off side. However, he was the first of two run-outs in Kolkata’s innings, White pulling off a direct hit.

The going had been slow for Kolkata, and David Hussey tried to step it up, lofting a Praveen slower delivery over long-off, before placing the following delivery through the extra-cover region. He launched Kumble for two consecutive sixes, but a throw fired in on top of the stumps from Steyn did Hussey in as he ran for a second, Mark Boucher did the rest.

Tatenda Taibu, playing his first game, took two boundaries off Praveen, but his innings was also shortlived. He was late on the pull against Steyn and the top-edge was easily taken by Boucher. Steyn was steaming in, but nearly lost his cool as Shukla hit consecutive boundaries. He soon got his man, with Shukla playing-on a rising delivery pitched onto the stumps.

An embarrassing goof-up delayed play ahead of Steyn’s final over - the 14th of the innings, with only one bowler allowed to bowl four. The scorers and umpires mixed up the two Kumars, and had Vinay with four overs bowled and Praveen with one, instead of three and two. Rahul Dravid, the Bangalore captain, pleaded his case, and Steyn finally got to bowl after the delay. The confusion seemed to have got under the Bangalore players’ nerves, as Wriddhiman Saha and Murali Kartik added 34 quick runs at the end for the seventh wicket, the highest partnership of the innings. Saha was lucky not to be caught by Steyn off Zaheer, with Steyn losing the ball in the Eden floodlights. He even got four for it, and smashed Praveen for a six in the final over to help Kolkata reach 129.

Source:Cricket News

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This entry was posted on Friday, May 9th, 2008 and is filed under General, Cricket.

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