The hype and hoopla that created turned out to be flat soda. The entire media went ga.. ga… of possible resurgence of former Indian skipper Saurav Ganguly got an opportunity to settle scores with his former franchiser of Kolkata Knight Riders and Bollywood star Sharukh Khan. It was ‘Dada’ (as Ganguly is fondly known among cricket circles, besides ‘Prince of Kolkata), who led KKR team in the first edition of Indian Premier League T20, but fallen apart with Sharukh, reasons best known to him. In that backdrop, the media created a hype claiming Dada is all set to settle scores with his old franchiser “King of Khans’ in this crucial match, because a loss to KKR would have put them out of contention.
But, it did not happen, An unbeaten 54 by Gautam Gambhir saw Kolkata Knight Riders thrash Pune Warriors by seven wickets in their crucial last league match to remain in contention for play offs in the IPL-4 here at Navi Mumbai late on Thursday night. After restricting already out of tourney Pune Warriors led by Yuvraj Singh for a paltry118 in 20 overs, though KKR faultered losing two early wickets, including that of their opener Goswami.. However, in-form skipper Gautam Gambhir and Manoj Tiwary put up brave fight to build useful partnership. Earlier, put in to bat by KKR skipper Gambhir on winning the toss, the hosts slumped to 17 for two initially and never recovered from the poor beginning. Manish Pandey (16), Callum Ferguson (16) and Sourav Ganguly (18) frittered away decent starts along with the under performing Robin Uthapa (12) after opener Jesse Ryder was packed off for one in the eighth ball of the innings. Yuvraj Singh (24) and Sachin Rana (18), playing his first match, gave some late fillip in the sagging innings during their 34-run stand for the sixth wicket, the highest of the innings. But the overall batting effort was far below standard measured by any yardstick. All the batsmen struggled to get into offensive against the visiting team’s spin trio – Yousuf Patham, Iqbal Abdulla and Shakib Al Hasan, who picked up five of the seven wickets to fall. Brett Lee’s express pace came as a big relief for the batsmen, especially Manish Pandey who hit three fours off his first two overs a punch through the covers, an edge and a pull shot. With this win, the KKR got eight wins to their credit and remain in contention for qualification of semis along with three other teams.