Mumbai versus Kolkata, Nita Ambani versus Shah Rukh Khan, Sachin Tendulkar versus Gautam Gambhir, Lasith Malinga versus Brett Lee, Kieron Pollard versus Yusuf Pathan and the cricketing madness of both cities pitted against each other.
How do Mumbai and Kolkata teams measure up?
That’s how you could bill the Eliminator clash of Indian Premier League 2011 between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders at the Wankhede stadium on Wednesday evening.
Battles within battles will most likely shape up this season’s biggest war yet and if city-based clubs are the order of the day in cricket, then this marquee clash will go a long way in understanding where the tournament and its following is headed.
The heat and humidity of Mumbai is at its ugliest these days and far away in Kolkata, people would know what it means to play cricket in such conditions. It gets sticky and sweaty out on a cricket field, the ball keeps getting wet and doesn’t come on well to the bat, stroke-play doesn’t get any easy and batsman have to put in every bit of energy to get the ball away to the fence.
Such circumstances are a bane to the Twenty20 format. Bowlers want to try something different but the conditions hardly assist. Batsmen look to send every ball to the fence but that doesn’t happen easily either. Tendulkar-led Mumbai Indians and Gambhir-led Knight Riders will have to fight these odds on Wednesday.
Despite relatively shorter boundaries, Wankhede presents a grave danger to teams batting second. Unless batsmen find themselves pressure-free – which again is a very unique situation – dispatching slower deliveries is not going to be easy.
Mumbai Indians have batsmen like Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard who have shown the ability to do well in these conditions. For the Knight Riders, Kallis’ all-round experience and Gambhir’s chutzpah add the necessary edge.
How they tackle the conditions will be important.
Likewise, with the ball, Malinga gives Mumbai a huge advantage because he hardly uses the pitch for any assistance where his pace is concerned.
For the Knights, left-arm spinners Iqbal Abdulla and Shakib Al Hasan have to be the trump cards. The conditions present a perfect opportunity for them to exploit and should they get going, Knights will certainly boast of a better attack than the hosts.
In many ways, the clash could be between Kolkata’s bowling versus Mumbai’s batting strength. In such a scenario, if MI bowlers and Kolkata batsmen rise to the occasion, the contest is likely to get tougher.
Lastly, KKR will look for revenge, if not anything, then for that last-ball six in their last league match that moved them to fourth in the pecking order. Gambhir will know that it doesn’t get any sweeter than to beat Mumbai in their backyard. Mumbai, therefore, have a huge advantage playing this do-or-die game at home.
Wednesday evening, under lights, in a stadium that is so similar to a bullring like the Wanderers, two of IPL’s most exciting teams will walk out to play. Expect a good game of Twenty20.