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Another homecoming show

  • Subhash Rajta, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
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  • Updated: May 07, 2012 01:59 IST

The first thing Gautam Gambhir can do is take a quick glance at the stands when he leads Kolkata Knight Riders into the Ferozshah Stadium to battle the Delhi Daredevils on Monday. The Delhi boy in the KKR skipper will be curious to find out if he can whip up the kind of support and emotion amongst his hometown fans Sourav Ganguly did the other night on his home turf.

Of course, the chances of that happening are non-existent, and the KKR skipper knows it. "He has done much more for Bengal cricket than I have done for my home state," Gambhir acknowledged after his team got the better of the Ganguly-led Pune Warriors at the Eden Gardens on Saturday.

The big boss
The other big reason why he can't hope to rip apart the loyalties of the Delhi spectators is the presence of Virender Sehwag. The Delhi Daredevils skipper is the most loved and revered cricketer from this part of the world. If there were still any fence-sitters, Sehwag's great run with the bat and the team's consistency must have won them over long back.

The lack of support won't matter much to the feisty KKR skipper, who's in the middle of as good a run as his counterpart and India opening partner. The two have been largely responsible for their teams floating at the top of the table this season. And it's likely that their performances would decide the outcome of the encounter.

Change of guard
While the teams look evenly matched, KKR will see Kevin Pietersen's absence as a chink in the Daredevils' armour. The home team has as good a replacement as one could get in Australia opener David Warner. But there will be some anxiety over whether the explosive left-handed batsman will get going straightaway. The Sehwag-Pietersen show has meant others have had few opportunities so far and they would be under pressure if the law of averages catches up with Sehwag.

Gambhir, too, has a similar challenge in hand. The team has been over-reliant on him and the other big guns have failed more often than not when the onus was on them to see the team home.

Thus, it could well become a Sehwag versus Gambhir contest. Whoever manages to keep his form going could walk from the Ferozshah Kotla with a victory in the bag.

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