What's a good score in a Twenty20 game? Some captains might say 160-170, others will say they don't know, and Ian Chappell will say one more than what the opposition gets. So Mahela Jayawardene, the Kochi captain, surprised a few people when he pegged a defendable total at Eden Gardens as low as 130-140. He had seen slowness in the pitch and included Muttiah Muralitharan in the XI for that reason. Gautam Gambhir, Mahela's counterpart, later said Kolkata should have chased the target easily. They had fallen six short. Kochi had made 132.
Jayawardene would glide towards leg against the left-arm spinners as they darted the ball into him from round the wicket, making room to cut, sometimes from middle stump. He did so against Shakib Al Hasan, and it looked dangerous. When Shakib darted the next ball in, however, anticipating another move to leg, Jayawardene nimbly moved towards the off, got down on one knee inside the line, and swept to the fine-leg boundary. He toyed with Iqbal Abdulla in the same manner as well.
Off the final ball of the tenth over of Kolkata's chase, Murali gave evidence of just why he had been played on this pitch. From round the wicket, he tossed the offbreak into Eoin Morgan. The ball gripped the slow surface, bounced sharply and spun away from the left-hand batsman. Morgan had begun to push at the delivery but then stopped, unsure of what to do, and left his bat hanging outside off. The ball seemed to hit the edge and fly past between the wicketkeeper and short third man. It had deviated that much. The umpire, however, signaled byes.
During Kochi's innings, Vinay Kumar flicked Abdulla off his pads towards deep midwicket. Laxmi Ratan Shukla, the substitute, ran to his left but instead of trying to stop the ball with his hands, he slid feet first, as if he were pulling off a studs-up football tackle. The ball bounced into his legs and over the ropes, and Gambhir reacted with a tea-pot pose. While Kochi were fielding, Raiphi Gomez showed how it should be done. Yusuf Pathan had slammed a wide ball from Ramesh Powar towards the cover boundary. Gomez sprinted to his right, as the ball was swerving away from him, and threw himself full length, hands first, and latched on to the ball.
George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo