Sourav Ganguly masters a tricky track

Sourav Ganguly bats during a net session AFP

As soon as Dwayne Bravo, leading in the absence of a resting Sachin Tendulkar, chose to bat, Kolkata Knight Riders were officially knocked out, the only team to have not made the semi-finals in any of the IPLs. If they batted first and beat Mumbai Indians by around 175 runs, Kolkata could have improved their net run-rate so much as to take them into the last four. But in their last league match, with not much to play for, Sourav Ganguly led Kolkata to their biggest win of the year. The bowlers smartly used the slow pitch to keep Mumbai to a below-par target, and Ganguly then played the cleanest innings on the tricky surface to take them home without hiccups.

Ganguly played the ideal innings on the sluggish surface. He committed early to few shots, and made sure all poor deliveries were scored off. And Ali Murtaza helped him with one in the first over of the chase: a long hop that Ganguly hoisted for six. With Harbhajan Singh absent, Mumbai went to quicker bowlers in the Powerplay overs. In the fourth over, Ganguly played his trademark inside-out lofts off Dilhara Fernando, one for a four over extra cover, the next for six over mid-off.

Ganguly was once again at his best when he chipped Duminy for two inside-out fours over extra cover in the 10th over, moving to 38 off 27, taking Kolkata to 71. Brendon McCullum, 30 off 29 by then, hadn't looked comfortable, struggling to get the timing right. Yet he slugged it out, never mind an inconsequential match, and saw the team through after Ganguly got out.

Ganguly may have not seen Kolkata all the way, but it was his positive innings that set up the tricky chase, and he got a healthy applause when he walked back. He took a moment to raise his bat to his beloved crowd. Could this be his last innings for Kolkata Knight Riders?