The Kolkata Knight Riders left Kings XI Punjab rooted to the bottom of the Indian Premier League (IPL) after a 39-run victory in Mohali last night. Manoj Tiwary and Sourav Ganguly both scored half-centuries as the Knight Riders made 183 for five in their 20 overs. In response, Punjab, who have just one win all season, made 144 for six from their allocation.
Earlier, Tiwary, whose highest IPL score before last night was 39, was dominant - smashing an unbeaten 75 off just 47 balls, including eight fours and two sixes. Ganguly's fifty was slightly more circumspect, but he still had six fours and one six off 40 balls. Irfan Pathan and Shalabh Srivastava both took two wickets for Punjab, while Brett Lee allowed 39 runs off four overs in his first IPL match of the season.
Any hopes Punjab had of catching Kolkata ended when Kumar Sangakkara, who was their top-scorer, was stumped on 30. Shane Bond, the Knight Riders paceman, conceded just four runs from his first two overs to stifle the Punjab attack. The New Zealander, who retired from the Test team, finished with figures of two for 24 from his four overs. The maxim has it that Twenty20 cricket is a young man's game, but this year's Indian Premier League is making a joke of that theory.
Today's encounters are a case in point. In Ahmedabad, the Chennai Super Kings will meet a resurgent Rajasthan Royals side, who are riding on a wave of confidence inspired by a 40-year-old who plays more poker than he does cricket these days. Shane Warne, the Royals captain and coach, is up to his old alchemy again. IPL3 is starting to show a variety of the hallmarks of the Jaipur side's opening series triumph two years ago.
The franchise was originally accrued on a relative shoestring, and they stuttered through their opening games back then. Their latest acquisitions ahead of this campaign were hardly box-office names, either, but they are beginning to form into a match-winning side. One of Warne's latest masterstrokes seems to have been the recruitment of Michael Lumb. Lumb is not a universally known name in England, where he plies his trade for Warne's former county, Hampshire, yet he has an outstanding strike-rate in limited-overs cricket.
Like Dimitri Mascarenhas before him, Warne relied on his own judgment over previous recognition before recommending the left-handed opening batsman to the Royals chairman, Manoj Badale for an IPL contract. The fact that neither are blue-blooded Englishmen - Mascarenhas grew up in Australia, while Lumb is the latest Anglo-South African - no doubt appealed to the great Australian leg-spinner. Mascarenhas had his case for international recognition fast-forwarded thanks to the faith Warne has shown in him.
Now Lumb, who is in England's extended squad for the World Twenty20, could follow, if he can continue the fine striking he showed in making a sprightly 45 in the eight-wicket win over Deccan Chargers on Friday. While Warne is well ensconced in his retirement, the batsman he ranks as the greatest continues to juggle all forms of the game, plus his unparalleled celebrity, with phenomenal assuredness.
Sachin Tendulkar, the 36-year-old Mumbai Indians captain, warmed up for today's meeting with Adam Gilchrist's Chargers, by making his highest T20 score last time out. Before India won the first World Twenty20 in 2007, Tendulkar had reflected the indifference with which his compatriots regarded the game by opting out of playing it. However, he is now experiencing a (Mumbai) Indian summer as one of the mode's leading players. Tendulkar excels in newest format of the game: who would have thought it?
firstname.lastname@example.org Rajasthan v Chennai, 2.30pm, CricOne Deccan v Mumbai, 6.30pm, CricOne