Last-ball six leaves Knights no shield - Rayudu does a miandad at eden

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By PRATIM D. GUPTA
  • Published 23.05.11
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Shah Rukh Khan hugs Sachin Tendulkar after the match. Picture by Pabitra Das n See Sport

Calcutta, May 22: Ambati Rayudu did a Javed Miandad to the Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden tonight, hitting a last-ball six and winning the game for the Mumbai Indians to deny the home team the No. 2 berth in the league stage of IPL 4.

Till the last six balls were bowled by today’s Chetan Sharma, Lakshmipathy Balaji, it had seemed the Knights would grab the second spot behind Royal Challengers Bangalore, earning an easier route to the final.

Come on, 21 runs was too much to get in the last over, with everyone from Sachin Tendulkar to Kieron Pollard back in the pavilion. But then, Man of the Match James Franklin hit four fours on the trot, three of them streaky ones, and took a single off the fifth ball.

Rayudu then crushed 63,000-plus hearts at the ground by smashing Balaji’s attempted yorker-turned-full toss over deep square leg, just as Miandad had done to Chetan 25 years ago in a Sharjah ODI final.

“This T20 is a tricky game,” was how a smiling Tendulkar described that last over.

The man of the moment, Rayudu, said: “I was pretty relaxed, and I knew he (Balaji) was under pressure. I was just blank.... Anywhere he bowls, I thought, I could hit a boundary.”

Miandad’s sixer had given Pakistan a temporary stranglehold on a demoralised India, at least in ODIs. The Knights, who have finished fourth, now have a job in hand to lift themselves and beat Mumbai at the Wankhede on Wednesday.

If they do, they must get past the loser of the Bangalore-Chennai Super Kings clash at Chepauk on Friday to seal their ticket to Saturday’s final in Chennai. A victory today would have given the Knights a cushion of two shots at the final. Now they need to win three back-to-back matches to become champions.

Mumbai won by five wickets tonight, chasing down the Knights’ imposing 175 for seven that was powered by a 42-ball 59 from Jacques Kallis.

If the Eden was half-empty during Kolkata’s first home match on April 11, there was not a vacant seat in sight in the last. Priyanka Chopra was there with her pom-poms, the Mumbai star playing unofficial cheerleader for Shah Rukh Khan’s team, as she had done earlier.

Tonight, Shah Rukh also got the four young actors playing the lead in his forthcoming production, Always Kabhi Kabhi, to come and support his side. From the big stars — the likes of Hrithik Roshan and Arjun Rampal had rooted for the Knights earlier — to the newcomers, Bollywood has been all K-K-R K-K-R in IPL 4.

“It’s all for Calcutta.... We want to win it for the city,” SRK said.

Calcutta has been won over; it’s now time to win the cup. But first up, a revenge against Mumbai in Mumbai on Wednesday.