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Match with big mismatch tag

When the Kolkata Knight Riders took on the Pune Warriors at Eden Gardens a fortnight ago, it was about the home team's face-off against one of Kolkata's favourite sons. Amol Karhadkar reports. Face off

india Updated: May 19, 2012 02:10 IST
Amol Karhadkar

When the Kolkata Knight Riders took on the Pune Warriors at Eden Gardens a fortnight ago, it was about the home team's face-off against one of Kolkata's favourite sons.

Cut to Friday, and as both teams prepared for the return match, it was a quiet affair despite the fact that the game is likely to be Sourav Ganguly's last hurrah.

It wasn't just because both teams have been embroiled in off-the-field controversies over the past week but also due to other reasons.

After Mohnish Mishra and Shahrukh Khan hogged the headlines for the wrong reasons, the team managements are desperate to charge their boys up for Saturday night.

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The game, in many ways, could be the biggest mismatch of the tournament. While Gautam Gambhir's KKR have won six of their last eight games, Ganguly's Warriors have won none of their last eight. As a result, KKR are placed second in the points table, while Pune are second from the bottom.

But despite assuring themselves of a top-four finish, the Knight Riders have every reason to go all out on Saturday, as a victory would ensure a top-two finish. It would not only mean that they will get an additional match to make it to the final, it will also ensure they will play the qualifier in Pune on Tuesday.

This would allow them to play their playoff in conditions similar to the last match, which could be a huge plus going into a pressure game.

While KKR coach Trevor Bayliss admitted that the scenario had left his boys motivated, he was worried about Pune's desperation to "finish on a high".

And even though everyone, including team owner Subrata Roy, is anticipating Ganguly to hang up his boots after their second successive miserable season, the man kept the curiosity alive.

"I don't know what Mr Roy has said, but I have a contract for three years," said Ganguly on Friday, confirming that he would play the game.

"I don't know what he said, I don't know if the full interview was shown or not. We will talk about it next year. Next year is far away. It's not that we are playing for India in another 10 days. It's still 365 days."