Hosts Pune and Kolkata cross paths in their last league encounter on Saturday night. On paper, it looks like a classic mismatch. But Sourav Ganguly’s men can take heart from the fact that in this format, upsets are usually the order of the day.
Though Kolkata have ensured a berth in the playoffs, they would like to beat Pune and jump to 21 points, making it impossible for Bangalore (17) and Mumbai (18) to catch up. If Kolkata beat Pune, they will undoubtedly finish among the top two and win privileges in the playoffs.
The last clash between Kolkata and Pune provided Ganguly supporters an opportunity to mock their own city’s team at the Eden Gardens. With Pune and Dada being shown their place, it’s to be seen if such ‘personality’ clashes reoccur on Saturday night.
Though Ganguly has not been involved in any major cricketing offence this season, he has been an absolutely ordinary batsman (avg 18, strike rate 100). However, this may turn out to be his last IPL game, if the feelers from his franchise are any indication, and a festive atmosphere is likely to prevail.
Despite not scoring befitting his status, Ganguly has been among the top four Pune batsmen this season with 263 runs (others: Uthappa 397, Smith 362, Ryder 234). His Kolkata counterpart Gautam Gambhir has scored more than double the runs (546) that of Ganguly and that has influenced this team in a big way.
If you think T20 cricket is about boundaries, think again. Pune have hit 180 fours and 58 sixes, more than Kolkata’s 166 fours and 55 sixes. But Pune could have been ‘relegated’, if such a system was in place.
Pune’s top four bowlers (in terms of wickets) are Nehra (11), Sharma, Dinda (9 each) and Samuels (8). That is 37 wickets between them. Kolkata’s top four have taken 52 wickets among them with Narine being runaway leader at 21.