Pune Warriors' Sourav Ganguly celebrates the dismissal of Delhi Daredevils Kevin Pietersen during their IPL-5 match in New Delhi. (PTI Photo/Aman Sharma)
Many experts point to the IPL for the erosion of certain values and skill sets. However, the cash-rich summer show is also a fertile ground for underlining faith.
Although Saturday's exciting encounter between the Pune Warriors and Delhi Daredevils was a lot about Jesse Ryder, it was old warhorse Sourav Ganguly who shone as an embodiment of that faith, both in the players he has backed and himself. It is unlikely that the 39-year-old has run faster than he did before a packed Ferozshah Kotla, in celebration after dismissing the rampaging Kevin Pietersen, immediately after bringing himself into the attack.
In the end, the wily old fox trumped home skipper Virender Sehwag's tactics by pinning faith in seam bowling rather than spin. Ganguly, apart from bowling all four overs, turned the game on its head with the KP dismissal.
He read the pitch well, dropping Marlon Samuels and including South African pacer Alfonso Thomas and then keeping leggie Rahul Sharma aside for most of the time. His bowling effort came after playing a crucial support role that enhanced the contribution of Ryder.
The Kiwi opener would have thought his career and life had hit rock bottom after dicing with drink. The hard-hitting batsman, who has also had weight issues, had decided to take an indefinite break from cricket until he found support from the Warriors.
The 27-year-old needed the support of a clinical psychologist to help him stay on the straight and narrow. And his second half-century of IPL V suggested the Wellington native is keeping his cool in the hustle and bustle of the league.
He played brilliant wristy flicks, although one such attempt left the left-hander needing his right wrist to be taped, he kept going until the final over.
Ganguly owes his success to self-belief. He did play and miss against the express pace of Umesh Yadav, and his clumsy moves away from the stumps and desperate heaves caused some mirth in the packed stands. He started with a half-hearted push off an over-pitched delivery from Umesh, which gently rolled to the cover fielder. In his prime, that one would have been caressed to the fence. For Ganguly, it is about staying unruffled, an example being the brilliant scoop off left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem over the backward short leg trap for four.
Ganguly's 93-run partnership with Ryder, spanning 10.3 overs, pulled the Warriors, who had landed after two defeats away from home, to a position of strength.
Sehwag would not have thought his bowlers would leak so many runs after deciding to bowl first. But eight overs of spin went for a shade over 10 runs apiece and fetched no wicket.
This was after Irfan Pathan started off with a rare maiden over, to no less a batsman than Robin Uthappa. Sehwag also brought in left-arm spinner Yogesh Nagar, in place of Ajit Agarkar, but he bowled just one over.
The first of the batting stalwarts fell when Mahela Jayawardene reached out to an Alfonso Thomas delivery to be caught at point. Sehwag and Pietersen stepped up the scoring and found plenty of distance with their sixes. That was until Ganguly's first delivery kept low and arrowed in on the off-stump, leaving KP bemused after missing in his attempt to stand and deliver.
The Daredevils hopes were in the hands of their skipper. But the last big act of the night was his dismissal, caught and bowled by left-arm spinner Murali Kartik with 78 needed off 45 balls.
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