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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cricket T20: Vintage Ganguly in IPL-5!


We have maintained throughout here that the IPL (Indian Premiere League T20) is more of a cricket marketplace than cricket. With glamour and sleaze embellishing it at every step the IPL also has other unique attributes like cheerleaders, strategic timeouts that basically mean more commercial breaks than the customary breaks every over and the weirdest loyalties of ‘home’ team and ‘home’ grounds. For Chennai Super Kings the ‘home’ is Chennai in South India while the team is led by Indian skipper Dhoni who belongs to north India; for Royal Challengers ‘home’ is Bangalore but is led by Daniel Vettori (New Zealand); Sourav Ganguly is inseparable from Kolkata, but he leads Pune Warriors now, while Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) is led by Delhi’s Gautam Gambhir the ‘home’ is still Kolkata. Very tough going indeed for the ‘supporters’!
Always turned off by the business and entertainment concept of IPL the best course I found for myself was to occasionally catch up with the action how the old warhorses had been faring and how exciting stroke makers like Chris Gayle, Steve Smith, Jesse Ryder, Kevin Pietersen, Jaywardene , Sangakkara and more had been doing apart from the Indian counterparts.
I had a gut feeling that one of the most successful cricket captains of India and arguably the most aggressive and controversial, Sourav Ganguly had to get going like he did in his prime time. In those days we used to pray Sourav settle down in any one-day or test innings, because after that the flurry of towering sixes off particularly spinners were a delight to watch and unforgettable. For IPL-5 he had been captaining Pune Warriors India (PWI) well, but doing precious nothing with the bat. Finally in yesterday’s match against Delhi Daredevils (DD) I had my rewards of persisting with Ganguly.
Few lofty shots he played in his innings of 41 off 35 balls reminded us of the glorious days of his career. His career being another wonder; debuting in one-day cricket against West Indies in 1992 and getting dropped immediately for ‘arrogance’, superlative test debut in England in 1996, becoming captain of India in 2000 and getting dropped in 2005 for indifferent form and the ‘fight’ with the then coach Greg Chappell, recalled to the national team in 2006 and finally retiring from international cricket in 2008, joining IPL as captain of KKR in 2008 and getting dropped there too in 2010 and captaining PWI from 2011.
Anyway, Ganguly’s innings and an explosive knock of 86 by Ryder helped PWI to post a challenging total of 192 in 20 overs. In DD’s chase for a target of 193 runs Virender Shewag and Kevin Pietersen started firing all cylinders looking to overhaul the total quite easily. At that tricky moment Ganguly brought himself on as a bowler—first time in IPL since 2010! And lo! His very first ball bowled a bewildered Pietersen. Sourav Ganguly looked then the charged-up skipper of India that he was! He went on to capture another wicket and his enthusiasm inspired the whole team. PWI finally won by 20 runs and Ganguly was the man of the match for his all-round performance.  
With Australian skipper Michael Clarke scheduled to join in later stages things are going to get all the more exciting for PWI and Ganguly. 
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