Saturday, March 13, 2010
In an Indian household, a homecoming is a reason for celebration. Relatives, friends and well-wishers queue up for the welcome party. So, in keeping with tradition, the Indian Premier League opener for the third edition was nothing short of a homecoming for the cash rich event after its South Africa sojourn.
The Sony commercial for the tournament promised a red carpet welcome with a glitzy opening ceremony at the DY Patil stadium in Nerul. The 55,000-capacity stadium was all decked up but quite a few pockets of empty seats all around the ground were hard to miss.
The stadium was not even half full when the opening ceremony began, though the numbers did swell by the time the game began 15 minutes behind schedule.
And those trooping in late had no time to even settle before the Kolkata Knight Riders began from where they left off last year, when they lost two wickets without a run on board.
But Englishman Owais Shah (56 not out) and Lankan Angelo Mathews (65 not out) put on a rescue act which took last year's 'bottom of the table' team to a respectable 161 for four from their allotted 20 overs. And what was more incredible was when their bowlers then recovered from an early hammering to upset defending champions Deccan Chargers by 11 runs. Even as the stadium, roped in as a "home game" for the 'homeless' chargers, erupted, Sourav Ganguly's Knight Riders hugged with abandon in the middle.
But victory didn't come easy. While skipper Adam Gilchrist was at the crease, the Chargers looked set to run away with the match. The stumper made the most of two reprieves to make a quickfire 54, but his dismissal triggered a mini collapse. Gilchrist's departure seemed to also lift the KKR bowlers, who then tightened the noose.
The holders were 99 for 2 in 11 overs before batsman after batsman gifted wickets away. Herschelle Gibbs, Andrew Symonds and Rohit Sharma all departed trying to slam the ball outside the park.
But KKR's bowlers should be credited for keeping to a tight line, forcing batsmen into playing false shots. If they can continue from here, it could well be third time lucky.
Kolkata Knight Riders: 161 for 4 in 20 overs (Angelo Mathews 65 not out, Owais Shah 58 not out; Chaminda Vaas 2/22).
Deccan Chargers: 150 for 7 in 20 overs (Adam Gilchrist 54, VVS Laxman 22; C Langeveldt 2/26).