Former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly praised the Kolkata Knight Riders after their 5-wicket win over the Chennai Super Kings at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chepauk on May 27 – a victory which won them the title of the Indian Premier League 2012 champions.
“Kolkata Knight Riders are deserving winners. Chennai Super Kings never seemed as consistently good as them,” Ganguly observed.
The 39-year-old, who served as KKR skipper in the 2008 and 2010 editions of the IPL, was ignored by the franchise in the 2011 edition of the tournament, and returned to the competition in 2012 as captain for Pune Warriors. While his own team (among the most expensive in the IPL) failed to make a mark, finishing at the bottom of the table in the league stage, the left-hander praised the Knight Riders for becoming IPL champions for the first time since the inception of the tournament.
The Knight Riders were set a stiff target of 191 by the Super Kings, and the first few overs saw the team falter as they lost skipper Gautam Gambhir, who has been among the most consistent run-getters for his side this tournament. The 30-year-old was unable to manage any heroics in the final, and was dismissed by Ben Hilfenhaus in the very first over, after a contribution of just 2 runs.
However, Manvinder Bisla, who was brought in to replace Brendon McCullum, did more than help his team recover from the loss. In addition to his blistering 89 off 48, which won him the Player of the Match award, he went on to establish a colossal match-winning stand of 136 runs with Jacques Kallis (69 off 49).
Praising the performances of both batsmen, Ganguly pointed out that neither had enabled the pressure to get to them, and consistently kept the run rate under control.
“After the first six overs in the KKR innings, I thought 191 was gettable,” he said. “I thought KKR was destined to win. Bisla batted superbly. It was clean hitting. He played out of his skin. He never allowed the pressure to choke him. He and [Jacques] Kallis never allowed the required run rate to go out of control.”
The partnership got the Knight Riders up to 139 by the 15th over, and Shakib Al Hasan (11) and Manoj Tiwary (9) took it from there, bringing their team up to 192 with 2 balls remaining and sealing the tournament for the Knight Riders.