Giant-killers Kochi up against table-toppers KKR
In red hot form after back-to-back wins, Kochi Tuskers Kerala would be aiming to halt Kolkata Knight Riders' three-match winning run when the two sides face off in their Indian Premier League match at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Wednesday.cricket Updated: Apr 19, 2011 21:46 IST
In red hot form after back-to-back wins, Kochi Tuskers Kerala would be aiming to halt Kolkata Knight Riders' three-match winning run when the two sides face off in their Indian Premier League match at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Wednesday.
A few days ago Kochi Tuskers were all about a struggling bunch.
After a couple of meek performances - against Royal Challengers Bangalore and fellow debutants Pune Warriors India - many wrote them off saying they were the weakest team in IPL Season 4.
But things have changed dramatically after two matches.
After beating heavyweights Mumbai Indians and holders Chennai Super Kings, Kochi have suddenly become giant-killers from underdogs.
In match where Sachin Tendulkar hogged the limelight with his first IPL century, Mahela Jayawardene and Co spoiled the maestro's party with a mind-boggling eight wicket win.
It was the performance of their openers Brendon McCullum and Jayawardene that enabled the team to chase down the stiff target of 183 against the Mumbai Indians without much fuss.
McCullum and Jayawardene launched a counterattack to Lasith Malinga and co as they put on a commanding century-plus partnership for a win that looked very easy in the end.
It was a performance that brought the Tuskers to everyone's notice.
Up against another heavyweight in Chennai led by India's man of the moment Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Kochi showed the same intensity.
It was the fourth anniversary of IPL - the day on which McCullum hit that memorable 158 in Knight Riders' jersey - and the New Zealander once again ensured an easy win.
In the rain-affected match, the explosive opener rose to the occasion, making a mockery of the seemingly below-par Duckworth-Lewis target of 136 in 17 overs for a seven-wicket win with two overs to spare.
If the win over Mumbai brought Kochi to the limelight, the latest win will surely give some jitters to table-leaders Knight Riders ahead of their match on Wednesday.
Knight Riders had a similar start to their campaign, losing to the guile of Super Kings in their first outing.
But the new-look side under Gautam Gambhir in the remaining three matches have showed why they are billed one of the favourites this time with three clinical wins - against Deccan Chargers (away) and Rajasthan Royals (home and away legs) - to take the pole position.
Having turned the tide in their favour, Knight Riders will have some anxious moments against the resurgent Kochi, which has a former Knight in their ranks in McCullum.