Smarting from their opening round loses, Kolkata Knight Riders and Deccan Chargers will hope to bring their campaign back on track when they cross swords at the Indian Premier League at Eden Gardens on Monday.
For Kolkata Knight Riders this will be the first match at their home ground without city’s favourite son Sourav Ganguly whose name had been synonymous with the team so far and provided the side the local flavour.
But without Ganguly, who was shunned in the latest IPL bidding, it remains to be seen how much fanbase the team, with principal owner and Bollywood heartthrob Shah Rukh Khan as its face, generates.
Under new captains in Gautam Gambhir and Kumar Sangakkara, both Kolkata Knight Riders and Deccan Chargers had a similar beginning to the fourth season of the Twenty20 extravaganza — suffering contrasting defeats to Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals respectively.
If Knight Riders gifted the match from a winning position to reigning champions Chennai Super Kings, IPL-2 winners Deccan Chargers, on the other hand, were outplayed by IPL-1 champions Rajasthan Royals.
Leading the side for the first time in their previous match, the former Delhi Daredevils captain Gambhir raised quite a few eyebrows for his negative strategy that saw the Indian opener bat at number 6.
They also did not help the cause by spilling three catches while three of their batsmen were out stumped and two more were run outs.
Yet they needed nine from eight balls with five wickets in hand but in an embarrassment of sorts they choked by two runs for a very familiar result to the Knights script.
Often in the news for all the wrong reasons, the Shah Rukh’s men, who finished sixth, last and sixth in the first three seasons, looked determined to come out of the rut, rejigging their line-up for a complete overhaul.
Roping in a confident opener Gautam Gambhir and most destructive Yusuf Pathan for the two top signings this season beside successfully bidding for South African mainstay Jacques Kallis, Aussie strike bowler Brett Lee, Knights have all the ingredients of a champion side.
And, not to mention a World Cup winning coach in Dav Whatmore and World Cup winning bowler Wasim Akram as mentor for the pacers; the Knights however lacked the winning habit if their first match was any indication.
To their advantage, it’s just the beginning of the IPL-4 season and the Knights will look to inculcate the winning habit as Gambhir will have the challenging task of bringing the side up from the shadows of Ganguly.
With talented youngsters in Manoj Tiwary, Manvinder Bisla, Sarabjit Ladda — who showed sparkling signs in their performances against Chennai — Gambhir just needs to get his act together.
Tiwary clubbed Suraj Randiv for two sixes to reduce the equation to nine off eight but the talented Bengal youngster was stumped in his another desperate effort for a six that turned out to be a crucial breakthrough for Chennai Super Kings.
Gambhir admitted that they should have won it from there. “This is just the start of the tournament, I think we played reasonably well, and hopefully we can get a lot of confidence from the game,” Gambhir said.
“With Brett Lee and Shakib Al Hasan coming in (after the Bangladesh-Australia ODIs), it will only boost our bowling attack. We need to try and not make the same mistakes we made in this game.”
Deccan Chargers, who lost to the Knights on both the occasions in last season, too are licking their wounds after their morale-shattering loss to Rajasthan Royals last night and are low in confidence.
The new look Chargers led by former Kings XI skipper Sangakkara did not click in any of their departments against the Shane Warne’s boys as the side which so far had the Adam Gilchirst touch came as a shadow of their past.
Sangakkara will have a tough task to fill into the shoes of Gilchrist who provided a top and fourth place finish in IPL-2 and 3.
On paper, Deccan’s bowling line-up can be considered as one of the best among the 10 teams with the likes of South African top gun Dale Steyn and Indian spinners Pragyan Ojha and Amit Mishra.
But their bowling with the exception of Steyn failed miserably last night as Rajasthan cruised to an eight-wicket win chasing a modest 137.
It remains to be seen whether they can pose any threat to an equally low-on-confidence Knight Riders on a sporting Eden wicket on Monday.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (c), Manvinder Bisla, Jacques Kallis, Manoj Tiwary, Yusuf Pathan, Eoin Morgan, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Rajat Bhatia, Iqbal Abdulla, Laxmipathy Balaji, Sarabjit Ladda, Ryan ten Doeschate, Shreevats Goswami, Jaidev Unadkat, Pradeep Sangwan, Shami Ahmed, Shakib-al-Hasan, Brad Haddin, Brett Lee, James Pattison
Deccan Chargers: Kumar Sangakkara (c/wk), Shikhar Dhawan, Ishank Jaggi, Bharat Chipli, Jean-Paul Duminy, Daniel Christian, Dwaraka Ravi Teja, Dale Steyn, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ojha, Cameron White, Ashish Reddy, Anand Rajan, Ankit Sharma, Akash Bhandari, Kedar Devdhar, Manpreet Gony, Harmeet Singh, Michael Lumb, Chris Lynn, Ishan Malhotra, Jaydev Shah, Sunny Sohal, Rusty Theron, Arjun Yadav.