Kolkata team bow out with a big bang
There may have been tired bodies inside the ground, not on the stands. After five weeks of playing, training and travelling in the humid east and south and the dry north, the Kolkata players could perhaps be excused for many moments of sloppiness while fielding. But the 40,000 who had gathered in the stands for Sunday's dead rubber showed no signs of being low on energy.
Many of them were in the black-gold shirts of the team, swaying and clapping whenever the Deejay played Korbo, Lorbo, Jeetbo Re. At last, their team lived up to the last bit of its anthem and won a match which wasn't of any significance in the context of the tournament. Still, if Shah Rukh Khan was looking for a consolation after his team's catastrophic run, there it was.
When Kolkata came out to chase 175, the reply wasn't bad initially. Sourav Ganguly and Salman Butt were keeping pace with the asking rate before the departure of the latter led to a familiar collapse.
It seemed as if the end will be familiar too until Kolkata found an unlikely saviour in Umar Gul. Ganguly was playing the big shots from time to time but the real impetus came from his fast bowler, least known for batting.
With 69 needed off 27 balls, Gul hit the ball unbelievably far and clear to raise hopes of an anti-climax and the momentum he set was enough for Ganguly to finish the job even after his departure. It was high-quality stuff, not slogging, and apart from fulfilling Shah Rukh's wish to bow out with a bang instead of a whimper, it was a just reward for those who had come to support this team.
Shah Rukh was back to Eden after skipping the previous match following the controversy over his presence in the dressing room and the dugout. As he had done in case of other debutants, he presented the jersey to Ajintha Mendis. The Sri Lankan with an awesome first-class record and a reputation for bowling a mixed bag was interesting but not an instant hit. It was another Sri Lankan who did a lot better, with an Australian. When Kumar Sangakkara and Shaun Marsh were done with, it seemed as if they had done enough.
With wickets tumbling and all recognised batsmen gone, the countdown to a familiar tale of remaining good hosts had begun. Having made sure earlier that the visitors were almost always in for a good time at Eden Gardens, Ganguly and Gul dramatically changed the script in the end.
It was one of the most extraordinary comebacks of the competition — too late of course, but as they say, better than never.