Led admirably by Adam Gilchrist, Team Punjab beat Kolkata at their own game, conjuring up a narrow two-run win in a low-scoring thriller at the Eden Gardens on Sunday.
Thanks to Sunil Narine’s 5/19, Kolkata restricted Punjab to 134/9 in 20 overs on a typically slow Eden turner, but made a hash of chasing down the fairly simple target. Gautam Gambhir’s men were cruising along at 73 for 2 before collapsing inexplicably.
Mohali leggie Piyush Chawla turned the match around with a brilliant spell, picking up three crucial wickets and conceding just 18 runs.
With Kolkata batsmen imploding spectacularly, Chawla dismissed a well-set Manvinder Bisla and Yusuf Pathan in the same over to change the complexion of the game, and despite local lad Debabrata Das’ heroic unbeaten 35 off 23 balls, Kolkata failed to close out the match.
Only nine runs were needed for victory off the final over bowled by Harmeet Singh. Kolkata managed only six to finish with 132/7 on the board.
As Gambhir and Co’s dream of notching up a hat-trick of wins lay in shambles, Gilchrist’s young pretenders proved unpredictability is the only predictable aspect of the game’s shortest format.
The debacle hurt Kolkata even more because Narine had set up the game nicely for the home team after skipper Gambhir won the toss and elected to field first.
If Muttiah Muralitharan has a doosra, Saeed Ajmal a teesra and Ajantha Mendis a carrom ball, the West Indies ‘mystery’ spinner troubled one and all with a unique ‘knuckle’ ball.
Gambhir opened the proceeding with Pathan, but it was Narine who gave his captain’s plan the right expression.
He struck in his very first over, dismissing Gilchrist. The famous knuckle ball came off Narine’s armoury in the next over and the victim was dangerous Shaun Marsh.