The Kolkata Knight Riders and Kochi Tuskers Kerala have had contrasting victories in their previous matches but the confidence gained is common. While Kochi have started to believe in the abilities against the strongest of opponents, the Knight Riders appear to have finally buried the ghosts of their past.
It's domestic talent that might make the difference between the teams. The Knight Riders have performers in Manoj Tiwary, Manvinder Bisla, Iqbal Abdulla and Lakshmipathy Balaji, while Kochi can boast of only Ravindra Jadeja.
Batting remains the key as both teams have preferred to chase. The Knight Riders have managed big scores from the top order, quick runs from the middle order, and the fact that Yusuf Pathan and Eoin Morgan haven't batted in the last two games shows how well Gautam Gambhir's team is doing at the moment.
Coach Dav Whatmore said flexibility was their USP. Which means if needed, Pathan could be promoted or the bowling could be opened by spinners or fast bowlers. This is exactly what they have done in the previous games. After finalising the batting order, they have successfully rotated the bowlers, forming different combinations. Limited resources mean Kochi are handicapped on this front too.
Brendon McCullum's return to the City of Joy, however, may add a twist to the tale. Once a pin-up boy of the Knight Riders, McCullum's flashes of brilliance were few and far between.
Post the epic 158 in the inaugural match in 2008, the Kiwi suffered an inexplicable fall. It was compounded when he was handed the reins of the team. He failed miserably and as a result, McCullum's batting was affected and his confidence hit rock bottom.
The new McCullum is developing the knack of staying at the wicket but not decelerating in any way. By ensuring he stays at least till midway, he slashes the asking rate drastically and makes finishing the job easier for his teammates.
Battle of skippers
Mahela Jayawardene has been selfless and courageous in leading from the front and has unified the team by setting examples. He has been quietly authoritative, while Gambhir wears his heart on the sleeve. It should be one fascinating battle.