Kolkata’s batting order colapsed against Mumbai on Friday. And on Saturday the team flew in a Ajantha Mendis, a 23-year-old who is known to bowl an assortment of off-breaks and leg-breaks.
This is surprising because the team has been doing reasonably with several options on the pace front. Spinners have been used sparingly and batting is the major concern, which got highlighted in Friday’s 67-run capitulation.
That will be the centre of attention against Chennai on Sunday as well and Sourav Ganguly with David Hussey will once again have to shoulder extra responsibility. Things can be different if Salman Butt comes good at the top of the order but practically, the team does not expect substantial contributions from the others.
The bowlers have performed reasonably and turned in a few match-winning performances, although batting continues to be the more important aspect in Twenty20. After Brendon McCullum’s century in the first match, Kolkata have got just five 50s in the next nine games, an apt indicator of how they have fared as a team.
Needless to say, the batsmen will be under pressure on Sunday and that may result in caution in the early overs even though Chennai don’t have the greatest of new-ball attacks. But given the situation they are in and the availability of resources, Kolkata can hardly think radically at this point.
Considering this, the inclusion of Mendis comes as a big surprise and more so because Kolkata did not field a spinner on Friday. True, the pitch had influenced such a decision, but the one at Eden Gardens is unlikely to be a great turner keeping in mind that Chennai have Muthiah Muralitharan in their ranks.
With every match becoming a do-or-die affair from here on as far as a semi-final berth is concerned, Ganguly’s team would be better of thinking about avoiding the batting blues instead of strengthening the spin department.