The results in a couple of matches featuring other teams had certainly gone in Kolkata Knight Riders' favour, but they failed to keep their side of the bargain, going down by seven runs in their Indian Premier League 2013 game at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association stadium in Ranchi on Wednesday (May 15). Even Yusuf Pathan's first half-century in Kolkata colours after three years with the team wasn't enough, as they lost the crucial moments of the match.
Robin Uthappa, to start with, then Aaron Finch, and later in their innings, Manish Pandey and Yuvraj Singh, all made it a super afternoon for Pune after they had been put in to bat, taking the side to 170 for 4.
As a result, the Pune batting unit ensured that if Kolkata wanted to keep their chances of making the playoffs alive, they would have to chase down a big total. Nine sixes and 11 fours were hit along the way as Kolkata, with more at stake in the match than Pune, wilted in the Ranchi heat.
The most heartening aspect of Pune's batting was Pandey, for long considered one of India's most talented young batsmen, but one far too inconsistent.
Till he was run out in the last over, Pandey played a wonderful hand. It was a sensible and smart effort as he hit eight fours and one six, holding the innings together first, and then stepping on the gas towards the end before being dismissed after a 47-ball 66.
Throw in a 21-ball 25 from Uthappa, a 32-ball 48 from Finch and a 20-ball 30 from Yuvraj, and Kolkata looked down for the count at the midway stage of the match. Sunil Narine and Sachithra Senanayake bowled their eight overs for a combined return of 1 for 48 but with none of the other bowlers pitching it right, Pune had it smooth – the last five overs going for 58 runs as Yuvraj turned on the style.
The effects of that late Pune surge showed on the Kolkata top-order as, by the fifth over, they had lost Manvinder Bisla, Jacques Kallis and Gautam Gambhir – in that order – with just 29 runs on the board.
Kolkata, however, managed to stay in the game, and they did it through the much-criticised Pathan and the often-overlooked Ryan ten Doeschate. The two kept the fours and sixes coming even as they rotated the strike constantly. And when the total crossed the 100-run mark in the 13th over, it was very much game on.
But ten Doeschate was needlessly run out after a 30-ball 42 and Manoj Tiwary followed for a duck, and just when Pathan looked like he would take Kolkata past the finish line, he was dismissed under bizarre circumstances. Trying to steal a quick run, Pathan kicked the ball out of onrushing bowler Wayne Parnell's reach. His infringement was obvious, as was the fact that Parnell had tried to stop Pathan by grabbing at his arm, but the decision went against Pathan: out obstructing the field for a 44-ball 72.
Then, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar conceding just four runs in the penultimate over, it was as good as over, and Pune went on to register only their third win in IPL VI fairly convincingly in the end, Kolkata's campaign also coming to an end in the process.