Angelo Mathews and Owais Shah cracked unbeaten fifties as Kolkata kicked off their campaign with an 11-run victory over champions Hyderabad.
One wonders if it was something new or old. The Kolkata boys had ended the last edition of the Indian T20 jamboree with a win and they carried that forward to the new chapter. However, for the Hyderabad boys, it was a dubious tradition carried through — they still can’t win at home, even if they aren’t playing there.
One would presume that the first lesson of Twenty20 cricket is to forget the past. Hyderabad, who looked unstoppable in South Africa, cross-batted their way to defeat while the Kolkata team came back from two sets of 10-over disasters to pull off a famous victory to kick off their campaign.
At 88 for one after 10 overs, Hyderabad, chasing 162 to win, were winning, before a collection of bizarre strokes off the springy bounce that the Kolkata bowlers got pushed them out of the match. Not that Kolkata didn’t make efforts to surrender the game, dropping Adam Gilchrist twice and missing out on several fliers.
But once VVS Laxman played an uncharacteristic cross-batted whack off Murali Kartik, it seemed the affliction was contagious, as Gilchrist, Herschelle Gibbs, Andrew Symonds followed suit.
Once Rohit Sharma played the worst shot of the night, playing three different shots to one ball from Laxmi Ratan Shukla, the game was over. The lower-order had a lot of intent but little contact with the ball and Kolkata emerged winners.
What was incredible was the way Kolkata looked totally out of the racing right from the beginning of the game. Manoj Tiwary and Sourav Ganguly seemed to be rewriting the team’s script of disaster, giving Chaminda Vaas two wickets off four balls of the very first over of the tournament. Things didn’t seem to be going anywhere as two more wickets fell before two imports in Shah and Mathews came together.
The partnership was sensational. The two were involved in a brilliant unbeaten 130-run stand in 14.5 overs and Hyderabad, at one stage looking to run through the batting, failed to separate the duo.
Kolkata saw a lot of pluses. Ishant Sharma bowled with venom but little luck, while Kartik sent down three overs of fine left-arm spin. Charl Langeveldt was at his professional best while Shukla’s passion paid off.
Ganguly captained with fire and aplomb and ran possibly the fastest we have ever seen him in his illustrious career. It was a good day indeed, for Kolkata.