|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Knight Riders snatch 3-wkt victory over Kings XI
Sirshendu Panth | May 26, 2008 00:56 IST
Skipper Sourav Ganguly [Images] led from the front with an unbeaten knock of 86 as the Kolkata Knight Riders [Images] snatched an unbelievable three-wicket win with two balls to spare against the formidable Kings XI Punjab to finish their below-par campaign in the Indian Premier League [Images] on a high in Kolkata on Sunday night.
Replying to the Kings XI's competitive score of 174 for 6, the Knight Riders reached their winning target of 175 losing seven wickets in 19.4 overs in a nail-biting finish before a crowd of 30,000 at the Eden Gardens.
Man of the match Umar Gul (24; 11 balls, 1x4, 3x6), who also shone with the ball with figures of 4/23, turned the game upside down during a hurricane 49-run seventh wicket stand with Ganguly after the Knight Riders seemed headed towards yet another defeat at 106 for 6.
As Irfan Pathan [Images] set out to bowl the last over, the hosts needed 15 runs, but Ganguly finished off the proceedings in a destructive manner, with a six, two, six and one to hand out the Kings XI their fourth defeat.
The Punjab side, already in the semifinals, remained on 18 points after 13 games.
Ganguly played a well-paced knock plundering half a dozen boundaries and an equal number of sixes during a 53-ball innings as the Knight Riders - already out of the tournament -- chalked out their sixth victory to wrap up their engagements with 12 points.
The Knight Riders had a rare sound start, with the India-Pakistan left hand combination of skipper Ganguly and Salman Butt [Images] putting on 45 runs in only 5.2 overs.
Ganguly made his aggressive intentions clear from the Word go, as he pulled and cover-drove Irfan Pathan for two successive fours in the opening over that produced ten runs.
Butt took over from there, executing his signature-tune delicate wristy strokes, as also some magnificently driven cover drives that raised the prospects of a close match.
As Kings XI skipper Yuvraj introduced spin in the form of Ramesh Powar [Images] in the fifth over, Ganguly danced down the track and hoisted him for a straight six.
But S Sreesanth [Images], who became the highest wicket taker in the IPL with a double wicket haul in today's match, changed the complexion of the game in the next over.
Sreesanth first forced Butt to play straight into the hands of short mid on with a slower delivery, and was on a hat-trick as he got Debabrata Das (0) leg before in the next ball, as the Knight Riders were reduced to 45 for 2.
David Hussey (12) did not last long, as he was foxed by a Piyush Chawla googly, and when Laxmi Ratan Shukla (5) found his leg stump sent cart-wheeling by V R V Singh, the Knight Riders seemed to be staring down the barrel at 70 for 4 in 9.5 overs.
Ganguly concentrated on picking up singles and twos with deft placements, and even pulled James Hopes for a six in the 14th over, before Chawla saw the back of wicket keeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha in the 15th over, with the Knight Riders' total reading 102 for 5.
As Aakash Chopra (2) returned to the pavilion in the next over, the hosts were 106 for 6, before Gul turned the match upside down with a barrage of lusty hits.
Earlier, Kings XI rode on rollicking knocks by Kumar Sangakkara and Shaun Marsh to pile up an imposing 174 for 6.
Coming together after the early loss of James Hopes, the Aussie Marsh (40; 31b, 3x4, 2x6) and Sangakkara (64; 45 b, 7x4, 2x6) added a brisk 83 runs of only 57 deliveries to put their side in the drivers' seat.
Sangakkara was especially brilliant, letting loose several delicate shots all over the park.
Marsh, one of the prolific scorers of the tourney, executed some power-packed shots before holing out to long off, giving Sri Lankan off spinner Ajantha Mendis his first wicket of the IPL on his debut.
Gul (4/23), the pick of the Knight Riders' bowlers, finally got rid of Sangakkara, as the Sri Lankan played across the line to a delivery that pitched on the good length spot and came further in and rapped the willower on the pad, as the visitors were reduced to 133 for 3.
Yuvraj (27; 3x4, 1x6) then played a cameo, adding 31 runs with Mahela Jayawardene [Images] (11 not out) before the former got run out following a horrible mix up.
The Kings XI seemed well positioned for a 180 plus total, as they reached 170 for 4 after the penultimate over, but Gul's superlative bowling at the death restricted them to a run rate of 8.7 per over.
Gul not only conceded only four runs, but also was on a hat-trick, as he picked up Irfan Pathan (7) and Piyush Chawla (0) of back-to-back deliveries. It was left to Tanmay Srivastava to thwart Gul's feat.
Young pacer Ishant Sharma, a find for the Indian team during their tour to Australia earlier this year, once again was lacklustre conceding 49 runs in his quota of four overs.