Friday, April 24, 2009

Rajasthan Royals vs Kolkata Knight Riders

A match that truly went to the wire, a match which had crowd & the players hooked on till the last delivery, a match that has been the closest till now in IPL.
It was also a match which brought out the tactical brilliance of Shane Warne as a Captain, against whom the supposedly more learned John Buchanan & his team of experts faltered time & again, & allowed Warnie to sneak away with a win even with a depleted side.

Brenden McCullum won the toss for KKR once again & chose to put Warnie’s team RR to bat. Under the overcast conditions, they wanted to make use of the moisture in the pitch & also know the target to prepare for D-L method if ever it was to come into play.
Both team had changes in their final XI. KKR had Sanjay Bangar, Ajantha Mendis, Anureet Singh(debut match) & Ajit Agarkar came in place of Enriques, Dinda, Karthik & Akash Chopra. For the Rajasthan Royals, Rob Quiney came in for Tyron Henderson as the overseas player. Maharashtra's Abhishek Raut replaced Swapnil Asnodkar, & Paul Valthaty, who's yet to play a first-class game, came in for Niraj Patel.

RR started with a new pair in Graeme Smith & Paul Valthaty, facing upto Ishant. Anureet Singh opened the bowling at the other end, making his debut in IPL, got the other debudante Paul caught out in the deep. Next in was Quiney & an immediate six, but he too perished with a catch in the slips to Ishant. RR rocked back at 12 for 2. Next in Yusuf Pathan & immediately hit a six over long on & a pull over midwicket for four. Pathan, as usual was into lusty hitting from the word go. At the end of 6 overs it was 54 for 2, with Pathan at 32 of just 14 deliveries. This brought in Ajantha Mendis, the mystery spin bowler from Sri Lanka. 50 runs partnership came on off 32 deliveries, as at the other end came Dada Ganguly with his slow medium wicket to wicket bowling. Mendis cast his spell in his 2nd over & got Smith first, caught in the slip by Gayle & then Pathan caught at midwicket by Yashpal. 73 for 4, with Mascerenhas at the crease. At the end of 10 overs it was 78 for 4. Runs dried up after that for a while as RR struggled to get runs on the board. Jadeja & Mascarenhas did their best & went out after well made 22 & 27 respectively. But when it seemed that RR would fall short of a competitive total, AS Raut launched into the last over from Anureet & smashed 18 runs. RR had made a healthy 150 runs for 6 wickets.

KKR started predictably with McCullum & Gayle with RR starting with spin from Pathan to confuse the batsmen. Warne was quite animated with his regular field placements. After a couple of quiet overs, Gayle opened up with a couple of sixes, but McCullum holed out with the score at 25 for 1. In came LR Shukla & survived a confident caught behind appeal, but skied a catch very soon, only to be dropped by the wicket keeper. After 6 overs it was 38 for 1 for the KKR. However the wily Warnie kept up the pressure & was duly rewarded when Gayle holed out to him in the deep & the Shukla nicked one to the wicketkeeper. At the midway mark, KKR were in slight bit of trouble with score reading at 67 for 3. At the crease Brad Hodge & Saurav Ganguly with a huge responsibility to take the team to the winning mark. Munaf took over the bowling after the break & was immediately rewarded with Hodge nicking to the wicketkeeper. KKR at 71 for 4 & a serious spot of bother. In walked Bangar, but he too departed in the 14th over with the score reading a dismal 94 for 5. It was now left to the old warhorse Ganguly to create some magic, & in partnership with next man Yashpal Singh, Dada brought KKR to within sniffing distance of a victory. Two mighty sixes off Munaf Patel by Dada, set the stadium on fire, as KKR inched towards the target. But when all looked under control, Yashpal skied Warnie & got out, leaving a fuming Ganguly at the end of the 19th over, with 7 runs to get from the last over. Rookie Kamran Khan, already nicknamed Tornado by Warne came in to bowl & under pressure delivered to get Ganguly caught behind & Ishant run out with scores level. It was a tie, & for Ganguly it was once again a ‘slip between the cup & the lip’. He could well have been the hero of the day, but just failed to get those crucial 2 runs for victory. Ganguly had made a wonderful 46 of just 30 deliveries, in a situation when all was just lost, but finally it turned out to be a losing cause, which would certainly have pinched the former Captain of India.

Tie meant, introduction of ‘Super Over’for the first time in IPL. This means each team gets one over to bowl while the other team has three batsmen to bat. Whoever scores more is the winner. So KKR sent in McCullum & Gayle again, with Ganguly on reserve against the bowling of Kamran Khan, & while McCullum struggled, Gayle hit lustily & the score ended at 15. RR sent in Yusf Pathan alongwith Ravindra Jadeja against the bowling of Mendis. Yusuf settled it for RR with two huge sixes & a four & RR had scampered home to an incredible victory.

While KKR would rue their chances, & RR relieved to finally come out winners, by only just, Cricket was the winner. It was a fascinating duel between the bat & the ball, & the game swung from one end to the other like a pendulum.
Let’s hope there are more such matches in this IPL league.
Man of the Match was Yusuf Pathan for his belligerent hitting.

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