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Kochi's shaky first steps against Royal Challengers

Barely a fortnight ago, they had faced off in the World Cup semi-finals. On Saturday, Mahela Jayawardene and Daniel Vettori will clash again. The Sri Lankan stalwart will be leading the newly formed Kochi Tuskers Kerala and the Kiwi their opponents, Royal Challengers Bangalore. Somshuvra Laha reports. Match box

cricket Updated: Apr 09, 2011 02:00 IST
Somshuvra Laha

Barely a fortnight ago, they had faced off in the World Cup semi-finals. On Saturday, Mahela Jayawardene and Daniel Vettori will clash again. The Sri Lankan stalwart will be leading the newly formed Kochi Tuskers Kerala and the Kiwi their opponents, Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Kochi, only used to getting the odd international cricket matches, couldn't have asked for a better start to their new innings in the Indian Premier league.

Young India at core

Vettori will be pleased with the young Indian batting lineup. Virat Kohli's rising stature was confirmed even before the World Cup when he was retained for an undisclosed sum while batsman Saurabh Tiwary was bought for $ 1.6 million. Cheteshwar Pujara has been hugely successful in the domestic season, but his challenge will be to bat aggressively. Add the likes of Tillakaratne Dilshan, AB de Villiers and Mohammed Kaif and you are pretty much assured Bangalore will look to fire on all cylinders.



Extra responsibility

At first glance, Kochi's batting line-up doesn't look formidable and that is where Jayawardene's role becomes even more significant. Brendon McCullum has been inconsistent since then Brad Hodge doesn't have age on his side. While Parthiv Patil strengthens the top order, all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja is making a comeback after he was banned from the last edition. http://www.hindustantimes.com/images/HTPopups/090411/09_04_11-metro-20d.jpg

Laxman sidelined?
India middle-order batsman VVS Laxman, who was bought for $400,000, doesn't feature in the batsmen's list on the Kochi Tuskers Kerala’s official website. Earlier, he was both batting coach and player.

Assistant coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar too is no longer with the team.