|Scorecard:||Mumbai Indians v Kolkata Knight Riders|
|Player:||JP Duminy, Z Khan, BJ Hodge|
|Event:||Indian Premier League 2009|
DateLine: 1st May 2009
If there ever was any doubt that captaincy is not Brendon McCullum’s cup of tea, the pathetic performance by the Kolkata Knight Riders in general, and the skipper in particular, is proof enough that he is just not up to it. Mumbai Indians did a great job of choking the runs as they notched a nine-run win as the Kolkata side fell further into the abyss.
The win looks even more incongruous considering that the Kolkata team looked pretty much in the running when Brad Hodge and Morne van Wyk got together in a record 89-run stand which kept them afloat after they had lost the top two cheaply. Hodge was valiant in his 60-ball 73, but he had precious little help. Van Wyk did his bit for as long as he could but McCullum was just not there when needed.
Zaheer Khan would settle for this kind of the spell any day. He initially was blessed with some extraordinarily lethargic batting from makeshift opener Sourav Ganguly and then added one more as Chris Gayle, playing his last match of the tournament, followed suit.
One wonders what is going through McCullum’s mind nowadays. After Van Wyk’s efforts came to an end, surely it was a case for the skipper to come in ahead of Laxmi Ratan Shukla, who despite his best intentions is not half the batsman the Kiwi is. All Shukla managed was to get some runs, not at half the pace needed.
Which essentially meant that is was Hodge or nothing. The Aussie, brought up on the stiff diet of cricket played in that country, fought on gallantly but the Kolkata batting shelf seems to have absolutely nothing left to offer.
Even if they had, dealing with Malinga was never ever going to be easy. The man bowls that incredible side-arm yorker with accuracy that sometimes defies belief. So getting him away was never really on.
In fact, even Hodge and Van Wyk, despite their IPL record third-wicket stand, never really could drag the asking rate down to a level where dealing with Malinga and Zaheer towards the end of the innings was never going to be easy.
So eventually, when McCullum did come in, he had pretty much nothing to offer, and against the accuracy of Malinga, it was ultimately too much to ask, as Hodge finally departed, desperately looking for that second run to reduce the target.
Even with the last over being bowled by Abhishek Nayar, the weakest surely of the Mumbai seam attack, all McCullum could do was hole out pathetically. The Mumbai Indians innings was a bit of a strange combination of a hesitant start and a rocking end.
The side has some of the best exponents of power hitting in the game, and Sanath Jayasuriya and Sachin Tendulkar have in this very tournament shown the power of their willows. But since they failed to chase the meagre 119 against Kings XI Punjab, they seem to have lost a bit of momentum.
Kolkata would have been absolutely over the moon when they got rid of Jayasuriya early, and also took care of Harbhajan, coming in as pinch-hitter.
But the real bonus was Tendulkar’s wicket. It may make form an interesting statistic to find out when was the last time Ajit Agarkar had claimed his wicket, and it came as a lottery. Having clattered his Mumbai and former India team-mate for a six and four, the Mumbai skipper failed to keep down a slower full toss to hand over a rather soft dismissal, especially when he was beginning to look good.
In fact, apart from Tendulkar and then Duminy, few looked like bothering the Kolkata bowlers, whose confidence at best would be moderate. Duminy had his share of luck, escaping a plumb leg-before appeal off Brad Hodge, but there is always some element of luck when it comes to getting good knocks going.
He capitalized in brilliant form, keeping the batting afloat with some quick run gathering. He did share some small but crucial partnerships with debutant Graham Napier and Ajinkya Rahane, and his assault on the KKR bowlers towards the end of the innings gave Mumbai vital runs.
McCullum’s captaincy has never been sensational, and even here he left himself open to questions about his choice of bowlers. He somehow found Shukla to come and take punishment from Duminy, being carted for two sixes in an over.
On top of that, he left Ashok Dinda bowling the last over, where again Duminy found the maximum twice. While Kolkata’s bowling has never been great, at least someone with more experience internationally to deal with the last over.
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