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Jai-pure magic

Half-centuries by Yusuf, Asnodkar give hosts a 45-run victory over Kolkata, reports Atreyo Mukhopadhyay.

cricket Updated: May 02, 2008, 00:14 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Hindustan Times

Even though it was just Twenty20, Thursday's match pitting Jaipur against Kolkata had a few ingredients that usually add flavour to the longer versions of the game. An animated Sourav Ganguly was urging the umpire to verify whether Graeme Smith had caught him properly and Shane Warne was showing his old foe the way back after getting him next over.

Tucked behind these incidents in a land where tales of native bravery blow in the wind, a group of Indians from the Jaipur side dominated proceedings.

There was a fair amount of foreign flavour and also some big Indian names like Ganguly, but the ones to make the difference in the end were unheralded Indians, barring Yusuf Pathan to an extent.

Although all of them were sporting the colours of Jaipur, they were not from Rajasthan. Pathan of Baroda, Swapnil Asnodkar of Goa and Saurashtra's Ravindra Jadeja —none of them represent the elites of Indian cricket and yet, they reconfirmed at a time when things are changing that these children of a lesser god are ready to make more than just an impact.

Asnodkar (60 off 34, 10x4, 1x6) wasted no time in showing that he was no fish out of water in this league.

The opener was a little bundle of energy, unafraid to take on the bigger names and made life miserable for Ajit Agarkar. With Smith gone in the second over and Mohammed Kaif coming in at No. 3, the onus of accelerating was on him and he made sure the capacity turnout braving the heat were entertained.

Pathan (55 off 33, 6x4, 2x6) has been scoring big and quick in recent times, so his innings didn't come as much a surprise as the one played by Jadeja (33 off 19, 3x4, 1x6). Known more for his left-arm spin and his role in India's triumph in the U-19 World Cup, Jadeja proved he was no rabbit with the bat, even if it meant quick runs soon after coming in.

With Umar Gul sending back Asnodkar and Shane Watson in the same over, Jadeja's first task was to keep intact his wicket and let Pathan do the scoring. After doing that for a while, the youngster was equally adept when the roles got reversed. His hits were not about power as he relied more on improvising and finding the gaps.

Pathan once again was not batting to please the purists. Quick to pounce on anything pitched full and within his range, he showed scant respect for feet movement or the positioning of his body, often hitting across the line. As it has in recent times, it came off. It made things tougher for Kolkata, who were already finding the going tough.

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