To Gautam Gambhir, who has already made light of the absence of Kolkata’s Dada from the side, the electoral landslide of Bengal’s Didi may not be much of a factor.
More pertinent to him will be the fact that, unlike Didi’s communist opponents, he has managed to arrest the downward spiral that the Kolkata Knight Riders had got used to in the first three editions of the IPL.
But, beginning Saturday, when Knight Riders take on a charged-up Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, the mission for the KKR skipper will be somewhat different. From hereon, with the teams headed for the play-offs almost a given, the focus will be more about the positions.
On that front hosts RCB are sitting a little prettier, their 15 points to KKR’s 14, from an equal number of matches, as also the highest net run rate among all teams, giving them the edge. Six straight wins, all mostly set up by Chris Gayle, means the team is on a real high.
They would like to climb higher and get to the top two but that particular plan may just be hit by the torrential downpour that hit this city both on Thursday and Friday evening. Neither team could practice on Friday, with only some members of the coaching staff coming to the ground for spot inspections.
RCB have already lost one point in the rained-off game against the Rajasthan Royals – albeit at that point it looked like a point saved – and one more washout will not help their aim of finishing in the top two.
That is not all. Besides the rain, which has been forecast on Saturday, what may come as a setback is the absence of their skipper Daniel Vettori, the knee trouble with which he started the tournament coming back to haunt him and sending him back to New Zealand to consult the doctor. Also missing from action will be Tillakaratne Dilshan, who according to Vettori was to have missed the last game itself. Dilshan has left to join his Sri Lankan national side, which is already in England.
Virat Kohli, the once temperamental lad who has matured into a wise young man, will thus lead the side again, a role he has readily and refreshingly said, he enjoys.
That he will be up against the man who will lead him and India in the away ODI series against the West Indies may make the battle just that much more interesting.
What will also be interesting is who Kohli promotes to partner Gayle, a choice he preferred to keep to himself for the moment. That for RCB is nothing new, given that until Kohli was asked a pointed question and chose to answer honestly, the team management had kept Vettori’s departure, temporary or otherwise, a secret.
There is nothing secret about Gayle’s potential and form and how KKR respond to that challenge will be the key. With the experience of Brett Lee and the bowling form that L Balaji has shown, Gayle may not have it all his way. At least that’s what Gambhir will be banking on.