Pune Warriors India mentor-cum-skipper Sourav Ganguly was upset after losing another close game, this time by seven runs, to his erstwhile franchise Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League-V at the Eden Gardens on Saturday. “After this loss, I don’t see any chance of advancing to the play-offs. Before this match, we needed at least four wins from five matches, but now we need to win all our remaining four matches, which is very difficult. But we couldn’t have done more than this with this side,” Ganguly told SUNDAY MiD DAY.
Electing to bat, KKR rode on a 113-run opening wicket partnership between Gambhir (56) and Brendon McCullum (42) to post 150 for five and then contained Warriors to 143 for eight. Replying to KKR, Pune began with a double jolt, losing openers Michael Clarke (1) and Robin Uthappa (17 off 14 balls) in second and fourth over respectively. The fall of wickets continued as Manish Pandey (17) and Mithun Manhas (1) departed in quick succession. Much to the dismay of all, Ganguly who usually comes at No 3 came to the crease only after the fall of the 5th wicket — the in-form Steve Smith (14 off 16 balls).
Angelo Mathews then hammered Yusuf Pathan for three consecutive sixes bringing the target closer with only 42 needed off the last five overs. But Ganguly (36 off 35 balls, 4x4 1x6), who overcame initial hiccups, holed out in the deep off Rajat Bhatia. Ganguly was, however, pleased with the 67,000 spectators cheering for him. “I’ve know the Eden crowd since the very beginning of my career. I have grown up in front of them. It’s pleasing to see them happy as I have a special attachment with this crowd,” Ganguly said.
Meanwhile, KKR co-owner and Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan made a surprise visit to the Pune Warriors dressing room at the end of the match to meet Ganguly, who was the captain of his team for the first three seasons of the IPL. “Bad luck Dada! We (KKR) would have lost if you were there till the end. Your dismissal tilted the match in our favour,” SRK apparently told Ganguly. Ganguly later joined SRK in the latter’s victory lap at the iconic venue.
Kolkata Knight Riders 150 for five in 20 overs (Gambhir 56, McCullum 42; Mathews 2/17)
Pune Warriors: 143 for eight in 20 overs (Ganguly 36, Mathews 35; De Lange 3/34)
Gambhir happy to win ‘away’ match
With a packed Eden Gardens cheering their favourite son Sourav Ganguly, KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir said it was like playing an away match. “He (Sourav) is a legend and I am still far away from the contribution he has made to the game. Only 10 per cent of the crowd here may have cheered for me. It was like playing an away game for us,” Gambhir said at the post-match press conference.