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Knights win, Sourav makes impact
- Cheteshwar pujara’s unbeaten 66 is the top score versus Free state
Sourav

Calcutta: Two-and-a-half years ago, Sourav Ganguly scored a rich-in-character 83 within a day or so of landing in South Africa.

That was for Team India in a warm-up (first-class) match against Rest of South Africa, ahead of the Test series, in Potchefstroom.

On Wednesday, Sourav authored an unbeaten 61 for the Kolkata Knight Riders in Bloemfontein, an innings which helped thrash Free State by nine wickets in a T20 game.

Another warm-up match, but with a difference, this time a build-up to the IPL.

However, there was pressure then and there’s pressure now.

Back in December 2006, Sourav had been making a comeback, that too in the Greg Chappell era. He had lots to prove. This time, the pressure is captaincy-related.

Specifically, whether Sourav will be retained as the top Knight or not. He did lead on Wednesday, though.

It’s not clear whether there will be a regular captain for the IPL’s second edition, from April 18, or the captaincy would be rotated.

Cricket manager John Buchanan’s multiple leaders concept, by the way, is on trial during the warm-up games. The first two (against the same opposition on Tuesday), it may be recalled, had ended in big defeats.

“I don’t wish to comment on the captaincy issue… But, yes, it’s nice to get runs in one’s first match in new conditions… However, there’s a long way to go… There’s plenty of work to be done,” Sourav told The Telegraph.

Having reached Bloemfontein only on Monday evening, Sourav said he was “still jet-lagged.”

The Knights restricted Free State to 152 for eight. The target was knocked off with five balls to spare.

No.3 Cheteshwar Pujara also scored an unbeaten half-century — 66, the Knights’ best effort.

Ajit Agarkar and Charl Langeveldt were the most successful bowlers, each getting two wickets.

Mashrafe Mortaza, making his maiden appearance in the Knight Riders colours, had two good (middle) overs, but went for runs in his first and fourth.

He landed with Sourav and, being a quick, needs more time to acclimatise.

The next warm-up game is on Saturday, when the Knights will be playing amongst themselves. The one after that is on Tuesday, once again against Free State.

Meanwhile, wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha, who underwent surgery on his left thumb late on Monday, is moving around with his arm in a sling.

“Nothing can be assumed till the stitches are removed… For now, we’ve just got to wait and watch,” is what the Knights’ team director, Joy Bhattacharjya, had to say.

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