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Sourav finishes Knights’ IPL journey on a high

The thrills and frills associated with Twenty20 cricket were on display at the Eden on Sunday. Fortunes swung wildly before Sourav Ganguly clinched it the Kolkata Knight Riders’ way in the final over.

Sourav Ganguly continued with his golden form in the tournament. A little more consistency could have changed Knight Riders’ fate in the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League. Time for Dilip Vengsarkar and Co. to take a fresh look at some of the oldies!

The past few days have been strenuous for the team for happenings on and off the field. Sourav chose the perfect way to keep the detractors at bay and end their campaign on a winning note. The three-wicket victory once again confirmed the side’s potential which has remained largely unfulfilled.

The Knight Riders captain’s unbeaten 86 off 53 balls with six boundaries and six sixes sealed Kings XI Punjab’s fate. If Sourav provided the perfect finish with an unblemished innings, Man-of-the-Match Umar Gul will also share part of the credit.

When Gul (24 off 11 balls) joined Sourav, 70 were needed of the last 30 balls. Forty nine runs came of the next 18 balls that turned the equation in the home team’s favour. Fifteen runs were needed of the last over and two sixes by Sourav off Irfan Pathan’s first two balls clinched the issue.

The last rites of Kolkata Knight Riders campaign had been written long back. It was a matter of restoring some pride and they did it in style.

Yuvraj Singh’s men have been on a roll. On Sunday they failed to live up to their reputation till the final overs.

Shah Rukh Khan though missed it all after having decided to stay away from the action, for different reasons. The superstar did make an appearance at the Eden but left the ground before the start.

The Badshah was not at hand to witness the nail biting finish but Preity Zinta cheered every run from the dugout. Korbo, lorbo, jeetbo re suddenly sprang to life as Sourav and Gul blasted away.

The start was not that encouraging. Given the circumstances and past performances, it was assumed that Knight Riders would find it tough to overhaul the 175-run target. But all that was proved wrong.

Ajanta Mendis was included keeping in mind the number of lefthanders in the visiting team. The spinner along with Gul did come out with a specific plan and managed to keep the batsmen in check but the profligacy of the rest proved to be a huge impediment in their performance.

Ishant Sharma started by giving away 16 runs in his first over and continued bowling to the batsman’s strengths. He ended up with 49 runs in his four overs. Why David Hussey was given to bowl his full quota of overs will remain a mystery! Why Sourav kept himself away will also be questioned.

Amid the mayhem, Gul tried to keep things in control. Two consecutive wickets in his final over did raise hopes of another hattrick in the tournament but Tanmay Srivastava foiled the attempt. Had Dinda and Gul not given away only 11 runs in the final two overs it would have been worse for Knight Riders.

The early loss of James Hopes had no impact as Shaun Marsh (40 off 31 balls) and Kumar Sangakkara (64 off 45 balls) put on 83 runs in 57 balls for the second wicket. The duo have been in prolific form for Kings XI Punjab and they were on song. Later Yuvraj Singh too joined the party.

What made it even tougher for the home team was the pathetic fielding. Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Umar Gul were guilty of letting through some regulation hits. If that was not enough, Aakash Chopra — a strange inclusion — and Sourav ran on to each other in the deep in comical fashion before flooring a catch.

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