Two former India captains are set to be at opposite ends when Sourav Ganguly’s Kolkata Knight Riders, fresh from a stunning win over defending champions Deccan Chargers, take on the Anil Kumble-led Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League here on Sunday.
With confidence sky-high and spirt in abundance, KKR’s performance in Mumbai would definitely enthuse the local fans who are expected to turn up in large numbers.
Nobody expected KKR to win against the champion team from Hyderabad but the unpredictable Twenty20 format had something amazing in offer in the inaugural tie at the Dr DY Patil stadium last night.
Inspirational Ganguly who is back as skipper after last season’s humiliation, led the team to an 11-run victory.
The absence of the toe-crushing yorkers of Fidel Edwards or the fiery pace of Ryan Harris in the death overs proved costly for the Chargers as the pace duo of Rudra Pratap Singh and rookie Jaskaran Singh struggled in the middle.
The KKR middle-order comprising Owais Shah and Angelo Mathews looked solid and with Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Wriddhiman Saha in the lower-order, the batting appears good even without the firepower of Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullum.
Their new bowling recruit Shane Bond is yet to show up either.
Ganguly admitted that the side, under new coach Dav Whatmore and mentor Wasim Akram, did not bowl well in the beginning but the tactical changes and the wicket of Gilchrist in the middle worked well.
“However, there is room for improvement. Especially in fielding, where we dropped Adam (Gilchrist) twice. We also need to work on our top-order batting. Now, after winning the first match, we will take one game at a time,” said the skipper.
In team Bangalore, Ganguly has the biggest challenge in Kumble and his ability to lift the team up from the dumps. The IPL II saw the team struggling before Kumble led a late surge to take the side to the summit clash.
The team will rely mostly on their domestic players who are a blend of experience and exuberance.
In former captains, Kumble and Rahul Dravid the team has the think-tank, while the Karnataka trio of Manish Pandey, Abhimanyu Mithun and R Vinay Kumar, with excellent performances in the domestic season behind them, will look to carry forward their form.
South African Jacques Kallis and new recruit Eoin Morgan provide solidity to the Bangalore batting.
The team also features an in-form Shreevats Goswami, who was the top-scorer in the national one-dayers with 568 runs from seven innings.
The hard-hitting Robin Uthappa would look to recapture his lost form, while Virat Kohli would give a strong surge to the line-up.
In bowling, Vijay Mallya’s side will bank on South African pace spearhead Dale Steyn to give it a good start.