By Syed Khalid Mahmood
Sourav Ganguly, the Prince of Kolkata as he has been usually referred to, produced yet another magnificent knock at his home ground, the Eden Gardens, much to the delight of his so many fans.
His scintillating knock of 88 from only 54 balls guided Kolkata Knight Riders to a convincing victory over Deccan Chargers in the Indian Premier League (IPL) on April 1, bringing smiles on the face of Shah Rukh Khan finally.
The crowd at the Eden Gardens was given another treat by Ganguly, having starred in many famous wins for India in his successful stint as captain. But life for him in the IPL has not been far from spectacular so far.
"It was a good wicket, the ball came on well. I have been batting well for the last four-five games - 30s, 30s, 50s - it was good that I carried on today," a relieved Ganguly observed after his match-winning knock against Deccan Chargers.
"We started off well but then dropped a bit, we were in a spot where we needed to get some wins, the tournament's still wide open but it was good to get a win," he added.
Ganguly led from the front, playing a similar kind dominating role he used to do at the peak of his career while captaining India.
He took the attack to the opposition on a pitch where stroke-play wasn’t as simple as on other grounds. He paced his innings superbly without making an effort to go after every ball.
With the pitching purchase even to the part-time spinners like Andrew Symonds and Rohit Sharma, Ganguly, the master tactician that he is, chose to punish only those balls that fell in his radar.
After having played out some quiet overs from the T20 standards, he took on Pragyan Ojha, the most accomplished spinner in the Deccan Chargers line-up, hitting him powerfully over the ropes on a quite a few occasions.
Australia’s David Hussey helped Ganguly lead the Kolkata revival. Hussey, many years junior to the now retired Indian captain, played a perfect second fiddle to build a partnership that eventually turned the tide. They added 78 for the fourth wicket in a matter of 7.3 overs after Kolkata had crashed to 68 for three.
Hussey resisted the temptation of having a go at the bowling until Ganguly was at the crease. Kolkata were not very well placed at the halfway stage of their innings having scored just 80 for the loss of three wickets.
There was not much gain in the next five overs either but the momentum picked up in the five overs yielding no less than 65 that took the total to 181 in the allotted 20 overs.
Ganguly was chiefly responsible for breaking the shackles as he went after the West Indian quickie Kemar Roach lofting him for a six over mid-on and then dabbing to a four fine.
He was in complete control of the situation and a century for him was there for the taking. But he plucked in the deep when just a couple of strikes away from the landmark.