SK Flashback: When Ganguly's 54 salvaged KKR against Gambhir's DD
The match from that era when Gambhir was Delhi's Daredevil than Kolkata's Knight. From that era, where half the commentators/coaches we have today were the stalwarts of their teams. While DD alone had batsmen like Gambhir, de Villiers, and Dinesh Karthik, KKR had the likes of Gayle, Saha, and McCullum. Today, each of them are the priced possession of 6 separate teams.
The backdrop of the match
The first 3 seasons of the IPL probably aren't the ones KKR would be proud of. Captained by Ganguly, the team had experienced 5 losses in the 9 matches they had played. On the other hand, the Delhi team hovering with their explosive batsmen had lost just 3 matches in the season. They required only two more wins to make it to the playoffs.
Although the wicket at Eden seemed dry, turn wasn't expected. Ganguly went ahead with Ajanta Mendis, dropping Shane Bond, and elected to bat at the toss. Gambhir, who had hoped to bat as well, was eyeing to reduce some pressure by winning this match en route the playoffs.
Dada returns Eden's voice
Ganguly and Gayle opened the innings for KKR and the first three overs were dominated by Dada's flurry of boundaries. Gayle partnered the prince with sporadic boundaries until the 7th over. With some monstrous lofted shots and sweeps, the Carribean opener later scored 15 runs off Amit Mishra's over alone. He went on to hit some more biggies before Rajat Bhatia's slow ball nudged the off-stump and sent him back.
In the same over, Ganguly cut a ball, reaching his fifty. At the end of 11 overs, KKR had already reached 100 runs. Eden had found its lost voice. The crowd regained its enthusiasm and were cheering for every run scored.
However, their happiness didn't last long. Daniel Vettori's slow ball in the next over tempted Ganguly for a slog but instead uprooted his middle stump. The slow ball was DD's weapon that day.
The expectations were now forwarded to McCullum but he was out almost immediately in a run-out by Bhatia. Manoj Tiwary and Angelo Mathews were out in the middle when KKR, after a tremendous start by Dada and Gayle, were at 130/3 after 16 overs. The opening blast had tempted the team to set a total in excess of 175 and now needed that acceleration.
The duo decided to attack the bowlers in the remaining overs. The run rate spiked over 12. After the showers in the death overs, the grand total leaped from 130 to 181. The target was achieved.
Sehwag-Gambhir partnership in vain
107 runs were scored by David Warner in their previous encounter. Their initial concern was definitely to pluck him out, after which the conglomeration of the best batsman in the world would follow.
Dinda opened the bowling for KKR and a quick, short-of-length skiddy delivery in the 5th ball of the first over knocked the off stump behind Warner. Eden was in a frenzy! The crowd was roaring.
In the very next over, a caught-behind was appealed by the KKR while Sehwag was on strike. The umpire, visibly half-hearted, did not raise his finger. Ganguly was miffed. He knew that his Indian teammate would start firing if not sent back early. And, the apprehension turned true. Like always.
The duo of Sehwag and Gambhir picked on every bowler, shooting arrays of boundaries. Iqbal Abdullah even dropped Sehwag while he was on 37. The crowd was sinking.
Ganguly, the pillar KKR was resting on, pulled the match to their side in the 11th over. A splendid direct hit at the stumps ran out Gambhir, who fell 3 short of a half-century. Mendis' googly baited Paul Collingwood in the very next over. Ganguly was delighted and so were the crowd.
However, Sehwag was batting in his own rhythm, almost unbothered by these wickets. He reached his fifty in the 12th over and the crowd greeted it with silence. He was looking to take his team through while Ajit Agarkar strangled that dream with his inswinger. The danger man was out in the 15th over and finally, KKR could take a breath.
Apart from Dinesh Karthik, three other batsmen who walked in exited almost instantly. The match that once seemed to be in Delhi's court, had rebounded. The only hope they banked on was Karthik, but it was Dinda's day! He had initially trampled on DD's hopes by taking Warner's wicket and he did it again by sending back Dinda.
The visitors needed 26 off the last over and Agarkar was bowling. With two spinners, Vettori and Mishra, out there, Delhi had probably accepted defeat. Despite the two fours Vettori smashed, KKR conveniently won by 14 runs.
With this win, the Kolkata team rose up to the 5 position, equalling 10 points with the Chennai Super Kings and the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Ganguly was named the Man of the Match and rightly so! KKR had finally revived their hopes in the best way possible - in their own backyard through the prince of Kolkata.