With back-to-back victories, Kolkata must be raring to go against Chennai in their IPL match today.
By Kashinath Bhattacharjee
His decision to promote Virender Sehwag to the opening slot had made history, a benchmark for a captain's thinking ability. Now Sourav Ganguly is at it again. He is trying to do the same with Manoj Tiwary. For Sehwag, it was in the longest version of the game and for Manoj, it is in the shortest version. But the impact is the same! Manoj, too, had never opened in his entire cricketing life except on one or two club matches, before he was instructed to do the same for Kolkata by Sourav.
The most important thing is, the Kolkata captain does not believe in giving only one chance. If the experiment fails, the temptation to discard the option is the order of the day. Probably, Sourav cannot forget those four years from 1992 to 1996 when he was thrown out of the international circuit after only one match at Brisbane in 1992. He faced it. So, he realizes the pain. And, he believes, there should always be a second chance. When life has no problem in providing one second chance, why should not he?
"Believe in yourself, believe in the team" is his motto. So, Manoj Tiwary, the 24-year-old got the opportunity to open the innings at his home ground and made the most of it by claiming the man of the match award through his 29 ball 50 against Bangalore, on Sunday. Now he is raring to go after the Chennai bowlers. The confidence of the captain is really infectious for all his teammates.
Against Chennai, Manoj and Brad Hodge will open the innings again. And for Chennai, there is no Dale Steyn or Jacques Kallis to open the bowling attack. The young Indian talent, Sudeep Tyagi and the South African Albie Morkel will share the new balls. In fact, that is an area of concern for Chennai since none of them impressed in their first match against Hyderabad.
Stephen Fleming, the thinking brain behind the Chennai team, however, declined to agree. "In the sub-continent, even a bowler with 150-160Km does not make a difference. Spinners can cause havoc and in that area, who's better than Muttiah Muralitharan? We have him with us. He is raring to go, too. Then there is Aswin and Raina, too, can bowl some overs. So, we are happy."
With the arrival of Shane Bond, Kolkata versus Chennai seems to be a battle between Kolkata bowlers versus Chennai batsmen. Although he had reached Kolkata on Monday morning, Bond might get a nod from the team management who are keen to make it three out of three. And Bond might be another trump card for Dada and CO.
But, the problem is, who to drop among the foreigners if Bond is to be included in the playing XI? Kolkata is running short on batsmen. So, Brad Hodge and Owais Shah are certainties. Angelo Mathews now is untouchable. Only option is Langeveldt. If that happens, they would again play a bowler short ie back to square one.
Yet, Bond can get the nod keeping in mind his devastating effect on the opposition. Initially, he had joined the Rebel Indian League in 2007. The best fast bowler after Sir Richard Hadlee in the New Zealand will be eager to make a difference in his debut match at the Indian T20 Championship as well as on his first outing at Eden.
Both the Kolkata opening bowlers will have to re-ignite themselves for an old battle against the mighty Matty Hayden. His new bat and determination to prove his worth to the team is making the battle an interesting one. Murali Vijay is labelled as a player ‘from the BCCI president's cabinet' who earns regular calls from national selectors in case of injuries to the first XI players. He has a proven record in the longer versions. However, his credentials in T20 are yet to be proved.
Suresh Raina has been a hit in international circuit while Badrinath has done the same in domestic matches. How these two young Indians batsmen excel against the Kolkata bowlers, Chennai captain MS Dhoni will be concerned.
The most interesting battle will, however, be the ex and present Indian captains. Kolkata still believes, Dhoni did not want Sourav in the one day team. There was a time when Rahul Dravid, the Indian captain, was unceremoniously treated by the Eden crowd over Sourav's removal from the national team. It was such an issue that when the Indian team reached Mumbai from Kolkata, some of the teammates were forced to remark that they had ‘reached home'!
For Dhoni, however, the enmity with Dada's army in Kolkata is not at the same intensity level. But how can one deny the undercurrent?
That sets the perfect tone for the match billed as ‘Captain courageous versus captain cool'.