The D-Days in Sourav Ganguly’s life haven’t been few or far between. And to his credit, he has aced most of them. But Saturday will be like no other day, at an arena where Ganguly can walk blindfolded.
The backdrop will be the same — fanatics long bowled over by his assertive and
aggressive captaincy or enraged by the cold shoulder given to him by the Kolkata Knight Riders will passionately cry ‘dada, dada’ in unison, and possibly for the last time at the Eden Gardens.
Pune Warriors India captain Sourav Ganguly gestures during the IPL Twenty20 cricket match against Deccan Chargers at the Sahara Stadium in Pune. AFP Photo/Punit Paranjpe
Ganguly might feel he owes his fans one last hurrah, something akin to his farewell Test almost four years ago. And like in Nagpur, where he had flourished with a defiant 85, it can be achieved only with his bat.
Still a class act
That cover drive off Dale Steyn is the stuff dreams are made of or the straight swat at Lasith Malinga after moving his front leg out of the delivery’s line. But can he move like a butterfly?
In the shortest format of the game, Ganguly hasn’t been the quickest. Till now, 24 batsmen have crossed the 1000-run mark in the IPL, and Ganguly has the lowest strike rate — 107.84 for his 1292 runs.
His struggle to get runs at a decent pace has been one of the reasons why the Pune Warriors have under-achieved as a batting unit. In 11 outings, Ganguly has scored 211 runs with a strike rate of 102.42. Scoring a 24-ball 16 during a highly-gettable chase of 121 against the Mumbai Indians was possibly his most disappointing innings, given that his team lost by one run.
Time to fire
The less than impressive strike rate shouldn’t be alarming given the former India captain hadn’t played any competitive T20 cricket before the IPL.
Ganguly has played in other formats though, scoring 424 runs for Bengal in nine first-class innings with a strike rate of 67.73 and 91 runs in six List-A innings at 68.42.
But that can hardly translate to anything worthwhile in T20 cricket. These are also desperate times for Ganguly, the captain, returning to the Eden with six losses in the last seven matches for Pune.
There have been successes though, like Ashok Dinda, who has repaid Ganguly’s faith in him. But in a game that lasts only 40 overs, it’s also about scoring quickly. He has a penchant for thriving under pressure. The Eden will surely provide him with the right inspiration. This time however, it can’t be done without crunching those silken drives through the off side, and at a brisk rate.