Kolkata v Mumbai, IPL 2010, Kolkata April 20, 2010

Kolkata fail to live up to promise

Cricinfo staff
In a league of inconsistent teams, Kolkata were punished because their troughs tended to be so much deeper than everyone else's

MS Dhoni's massive six-hitting half a country away may have all but ended Kolkata Knight Riders' chances of making the semi-finals, but the spectators still turned up in their thousands at the Eden Gardens on Monday evening, braving searing summer heat and oppressive humidity. Some came wearing the old black shirt, others were in the new purple one; some had the team logo painted on their faces, while others walked along bemoaning the loss to Kings XI Punjab that had dealt such a crippling blow to their hopes of progress.

After what had transpired outside the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Saturday, getting inside the ground was no stroll either. Even those with media credentials had their bags checked four or five times, and there were nervous whinnying police horses to get past before the gates could be glimpsed. Inside, with two of the bigger stands yet to be rebuilt before the World Cup next year, there were a few empty spaces.

A season that had begun so promisingly had been pretty much ended by a man who first caught the eye with his big-hitting in Kolkata's club cricket. The sense of anticlimax intensified with the announcement of the Mumbai Indians team. No Sachin Tendulkar, no Kieron Pollard, no Lasith Malinga, no Harbhajan Singh, no Zaheer Khan. Dwayne Bravo was captain.

For Kolkata to have made the last four, they would have needed to bat first and win by close to 175 runs. When they lost the toss, even that possibility, slim though it was, was extinguished. It didn't lessen the noise though, and a couple of the more inexperienced Mumbai players seemed quite unnerved by the atmosphere.

Saurabh Tiwary and Ambati Rayudu , who had started the season so well, were unfazed but the makeshift XI lost too many wickets at crucial times. Each wicket was cheered, but the biggest applause of the night was reserved for Sourav Ganguly, who had made something of a habit of taking stunning catches this season. The latest grab at midwicket left him winded, but it epitomised a committed effort that belied their position in the lower reaches of the table.

With the bat, Ganguly was no less a factor, smacking Ali Murtaza for a six in the opening over. This was a chase devoid of drama and after a while even the crowd lost its fizz. It would rouse itself each time Ganguly or Brendon McCullum found the rope, but most had probably slipped into what-might-have-been mode.

Their first victory in six attempts against Mumbai was clinched with 15 balls to spare but by then Ganguly had departed, miscuing one to backward point. Over the past few days, there have been some media reports suggesting he could be a target for the new Sahara-owned Pune franchise and a fresh auction is scheduled for September or October. If this was Ganguly's last act in a Kolkata jersey, it was a winning one.

Once the parties are over and reflection takes hold, Kolkata will reflect on a season that was a massive improvement on last year's joke, but still left them as the only franchise not to make a semi-final. Ganguly finished with 493 runs, Murali Kartik was easily the pick of the Indian spinners, and Ashok Dinda appeared to regain the spark that had pushed him to the fringes of national selection in 2008.

Shane Bond didn't take as many wickets as some might have hoped, and the injury to Charl Langeveldt was a real blow, but Kolkata were let down by underwhelming displays from Chris Gayle and McCullum when the stakes were most high. Ishant Sharma's descent from pace-bowling hope to buffet bowler was just as damaging, and the franchise will hope Jaidev Unadkat's career follows a different trajectory.

In the end, Kolkata finished as one of six teams with at least seven wins to their name. The net run-rate though was beyond redemption, stuck in the minuses as a result of some crushing defeats. Afterwards, Ganguly spoke of the failure to defend 200 against Kings XI and the poor batting in the second half of an innings in Bangalore. In a league of inconsistent teams, Kolkata were punished because their troughs tended to be so much deeper than everyone else's.

With the clock moving towards midnight, they streamed out quietly, seeking the buses, trains and cabs that would take them home. Up above Gate 1, a billboard had the team's motto: Miles to Go, Promises to Keep. The first part was depressingly true. The second, despite Ganguly's sterling efforts and the improvements supervised by Dav Whatmore, wasn't.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on April 22, 2010, 22:51 GMT

    Nobody expected it from KKR.

  • Prakash on April 21, 2010, 11:07 GMT

    Please stop blaming Ganguly for these loss. He is the only consistant batsmen in the tournament for KKR. He has lifted KKR from deep level to this stage. He is good in fielding too. Tendulkar showed his wonderful batting this season but he has been supported by local players like s.tiwary, rayudu and also by other foreign players like pollard, duminy. Also the bowling of Mumbai is far more excellent by khan,harbhajan etc. But what is the condition for kKR, ganguly has not got the consistent support from the local as well as foreign players. Bowling is the very poor stuff as compared to other teams in this season for KKR. The another team to suffer a heavy loss in this regard is CSK. Even CSK showed poor performance until the arrival of Bollinger. Only after consistent performance of bollinger and ashwin they were into semis now. Even though i was one of the fan who expected much more from them and but in vain. He s perfect skipper for KKR and i need him to lead KKR for victory for 100%

  • Subrata on April 21, 2010, 10:55 GMT

    I thought cricket is a simple game where you need to bat , bowl and field well. Also i used to think , a captain is only as good as his team. So i don't understand what is reason for the huge fuss over Sourav Ganguly's performance. He did bat and field quite well. Or is T20 such a complicated game that something like a magic wand has to be waved by the captain ? KKR players and their captain tried hard but it was not enough. So they need to try harder next time. Its as simple as that. They did way better than last time though. And to all the pundits baying for Ganguly's blood, i say why don't you try out for KKR trials next year if you think you understand the game better than him.

  • Dummy4 on April 21, 2010, 6:09 GMT

    Continued.. That too because of the local players performance, he hasn't done anything exceptional to lead the side. But look at ganguly, he has lead the team, stared on 5 wins to lead the team to victory. Also he has done great things on the field. People say that he as taken credit for victory and did put the blame when they lost. Can you actually prove this? He did go a bit overboard on one presentation, but that was the desperation, it was not really to put blame, but to tell them that they need to perform. Also he has never taken any credit, he never went there and said, i did miracles to win the match. All matches they won, he said, it was all because of players who did good that day. He spoke about gayle, Dinda, Unadkat, Pujara, Karthik. He has almost spoke of everyone. What others have done different than ganguly, when you say, warne and Tendulkar are different can you tell me what have they done different? They just speak the same, only part is they are more diplomatic.

  • Dummy4 on April 21, 2010, 6:02 GMT

    I don't think everyone has to go all out on Ganguly for just losing. Also people need to understand that he captained KKR for only 2 seasons. The second season was a complete disaster because of Mcullum. Also the third season was a big turn down by all those big names. Much was expected out of Gayle, Mucullum and Bond, but none lived to their reputation. Gayle only got 2 half century in the whole series and mucullum had only 1 to his name. So that clearly tells the story for the loss. Also the bowling department did a great favor to teams performance. All names, Ishant Sharma, bond, Mendis, none shined. They couldn't even get make 10 wickets, while other teams atleast had 2 people closing to 15 wickets. So its not really a good habit to always point fingers at Ganguly. Ganguly played 2 seasons as captain and couldn't make to semis, the same goes for Tendulkar as well, he has captained 2 versions and didn't get it semis. This is the third time and he has taken it to the semis, that too

  • Dummy4 on April 21, 2010, 5:31 GMT

    Give it time, I am sure reports of a rift would begin circulating, because given the profile of the KKR overseas players, they would not put up with Ganguly's attitude and leadership style, given that he is a has been, along with what had transpired with the previous coach... Tell Ganguly to take a rest for 2011, I assure you there will be a much better persformance. There's is no way Ganguly should have been made captain of current players... Sorry, but it is the truth!

  • Dummy4 on April 21, 2010, 5:29 GMT

    ikr4m.17, ganguly was not captain last time. and under him, despite the eventual disappointment, the team came miles ahead of last year's pitiful showing.

  • harish on April 21, 2010, 4:52 GMT

    Ha ha who believes in fake promises of Dada & SRK i knew that they will never able to make semifinals actually they performed better what they deserved with dada in the team.

  • Dhruv on April 21, 2010, 4:11 GMT

    I believe KKR played far better than the last two seasons and just missed out the semis bcoz of the NRR. They were as gd as DD, CSK and RCB. Agreed that they were inconsistent, but atleast they won 7 out of 14 matches. About Ganguly, well he can't be called selfish bcoz out of the 7 wins, Ganguly helped the team to 4 wins. He batted well, being the third highest run-getter in the IPL and fielded like he has never before. He is the ideal captain for a team that has a majority of inexperienced and young players. Kolkata is unlucky due to the Punjab defeat where they were undone by Jayawardene, out of nowhere. I believe they can enter the semis next year, if they are targetting the auction in Sept. Watch out for youngsters like Tiwary and Unadkat who have been the finds of the tournament!

  • Ghana on April 21, 2010, 0:57 GMT

    I dont think too many folks see KKR as doing a lot better than they deserved to. They had these 2 bonus wins against Deccan, which were more due to deccan losing the matches than KKR winning them. That effectively made them the contenders and made Deccan sweat their way thru to the semis. Take these out, and you have a hopeless campaign. All three IPL's combined, KKR is the unquestioned hopeless team.

    Be thankful for how far KKR made it. They wont be this lucky next year unless something changes.

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