Kolkata ride on Ganguly’s blitz
Ganguly shows just why he is still one of the best batsmen around as he leads Kolkata to a 23-run win over the hosts with his 57-ball 91 runs. Arjun Sen reports.Updated: May 12, 2008, 03:17 IST
Twenty20 wasn't an old man's game, they said. It wasn't quite the stage for players past their prime to be showing up at, they said. It would bring a swift end to careers, they said.
Well, they were wrong.
For on Sunday, a 35-year-old, past his prime according to many, held almost 40,000 people in his thrall and played a T20 innings that was as much about power as panache. Sourav Ganguly is not the kind of player one would instantly associate with T20 cricket. Not the fastest runner between the wickets, hardly a gazelle in the field, Ganguly is almost the antithesis of a T20 cricketer, or so many would like to believe.
But cricket, irrespective of the format, is more than just fielding well and taking the quick twos. It is essentially about finding the gaps with bat in hand, and plugging them while bowling.
On Sunday against Hyderabad, Ganguly showed just why he is still one of the best bats around. Leading Kolkata, Ganguly struck a simply majestic 57-ball 91, and scalped two wickets as well, to star in a 23-run win over the hosts.
Chasing 205, Hyderabad were aided by some lusty hitting by Venugopal Rao but fell short in the end.
It was classic Ganguly, batting with the kind of effortless ease only he can, the southpaw put the Hyderabad bowling attack to the sword. While he threw the kitchen sink at the pacers, he delicately guided the spinners to the fence.
His innings was adorned with 11 hits to the fence, and five over it.
He took a special affinity to Pragyan Ojha's slow left armers, smashing 19 off his second over.
Adam Gilchrist tried just about everything to stop Ganguly, but everything he threw at the man, met with the same fate. The pacers were punished and the spinners smashed. Slowly, but surely Ganguly began to represent an unstoppable force, brushing aside everything in his path with the least bit of struggle.
But while the Hyderabad bowlers were suffering at the hands of the master, the people weren't complaining. Unabashedly pro-Ganguly, they had come hoping to see a special from their hero, and that is exactly what they got. There was an unmistakable air of expectancy in the crowd whenever Ganguly took strike, a longing for him to do something out of the ordinary. And he did not disappoint, either.
Playing shots that very few thought he had in him to play, Ganguly raced to his 50 off only 40 balls. The crowd firmly behind him, Ganguly seamlessly shifted gears to smash 41 runs off only 17 balls. And if Ganguly was proving almost impossible to stop, Aussie David Hussey (57* off 29) was hardly an easier nut to crack.
It was never going to be an easy chase for the hosts, and the almost hara-kiri hardly helped matters.
There was a complete lack of application in the way Gilchrist & Co. batted, with everybody looking to start smashing from the first ball.
At 123/6, Hyderabad were headed for a humiliating defeat, but Rao's counter-attacking 42-ball 71 greatly reduced the margin of defeat.
Kolkata look back in the race for the semifinals, while for Hyderabad the IPL couldn't end soon enough.
The Kolkata team's tagline is 'All the King's men', well, on Sunday, the king returned to hold court. And how!