Kolkata: It was certainly the most talked-about clash in the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League, with many highlighting May 5 as soon as the schedule was drawn up. The home hero Sourav Ganguly, up against the home team - Kolkata Knight Riders. The match did live up to the hype. And in the end, most people would have gone back happy with Kolkata winning and Ganguly playing a significant hand, albeit in vain.
Kolkata batted first, and started brilliantly with Gautam Gambhir carrying on with his superb form. Brendon McCullum shared in a century-plus opening stand, but it was almost entirely the Gambhir show. He took charge early on, with 36 runs coming off the final two powerplay overs as Kolkata reached 68 for no loss. Even though the scoring slowed down a little thereafter, Kolkata were still looking good for 200 when they were 106 for no loss after 11 overs.
However, once Gambhir fell for a 36-ball 56 in the 13th over, things went totally pear-shaped. None of the batsmen could come to terms with the slowness of the wicket and Kolkata scored only 37 runs off the final 7.3 overs to end at 150 for 5.
A quick check shows that Kolkata scored 98 off the first 10 overs and only 52 off the last 10. But truth is that it was a difficult track to bat on, and if you take Gambhir out of the equation, it would have been very, very different. Which is what we saw in the Pune Warriors innings as well.
When Pune came out to bat, Marchant de Lange set them on the backfoot straightaway, dismissing Michael Clarke first and adding Robin Uthappa's wicket soon after.
Interestingly, Ganguly did not bat at his normal position, but came in to bat much lower down at number seven, acknowledging that his lack of form meant others deserved to go up the order. When he did come in, Pune were struggling at 55 for five in the ninth over, with Ganguly and Angelo Mathews the only specialist batsmen left.
Like in the first half of the match, Pune turned things around after the first ten overs, with Ganaguly and Mathews sharing a 73-run stand off just 56 balls before Ganguly fell. At the time, Pune still needed 23 off 14 balls.
What tipped the scales in Kolkata's favour was that six of those were bowled by man of the match Sunil Narine, who proved impossible to score off. He conceded just four runs in the 19th over, ending with figures of one for 13 from his four overs. Good enough for Kolkata to squeeze out a seven-run win at the end.