(The Times Of India)
Snubbed and rejected he was by the IPL franchisees but on Tuesday Sourav Ganguly proved that he is still the dada of Indian cricket. The adulation that he enjoys is next only to Sachin Tendulkar. A fan intruding on to the ground in the 13th over of the Pune Warriors innings and attempting to fall prostate at his feet is a fair indication of the popularity of the Prince of Kolkata.
The former Indian captain, yet again, showed that you just can’t keep a good man down for long. Ganguly proved to his detractors (read Kolkata Knight Riders) that he still has enough fire in his belly to make a meaning contribution to his team. The southpaw struck an unbeaten 32 to take Pune Warriors to a six-wicket victory over Deccan Chargers.
At 38, Ganguly may be feeling the pressure a bit more than in his previous comeback attempts but he showed that he had enough experience to overcome the physical drawbacks. He fumbled a bit on the field and let through a boundary as skipper Yuvraj made sure that Ganguly didn’t have too many embarrassing moments on the field. But once the willow was in his hands, Ganguly proved that he is the boss.
The sheer disdain he showed to Ishant Sharma when he stepped out and lofted the delivery over extracover gave one a glimpse of his prime days. Ganguly went on to smash a six off Amit Mishra and struck two more boundaries in his 32–ball innings.
Chasing a modest 137 at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium on Tuesday, the Warriors were off to a blazing start with Jessie Ryder in a belligerent mood. The New Zealander smashed the fearsome Dale Steyn for a six and two fours in the first over to set the tone for a comprehensive victory.
Ryder followed it up with two fours off Ishant and another six off JP Duminy and by the time left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha bowled him the southpaw had helped himsel f to 35 off 20 balls with five fours and two sixes. Manish Pandey took over from his senior partner and helped himself to 49 (42; 6×4, 2×6) and thereby giving Ganguly the time to settle down before displaying his wares.
Earlier, 19-year-old medium pacer Mitchell Marsh ensured that the Chargers will not be able to post a competitive total by returning with figures of four for 25 – three wickets in the 19th over. The younger of the Marsh brothers bowled in the right areas to put the Chargers under constant pressure.
Earlier, the Chargers were off to a flying start with Shikhar Dhawan and DB Ravi Teja post the 50 of the innings in six overs. But once they were separated, the hosts lost momentum.