This is a contest between teams still grappling with the captaincy conundrum. While two of the most revered names in Indian — no, world — cricket were marshalling their sides on the field in the last edition, they have been stripped off their captaincy and it’s struck a discordant note among the cricket-loving public in the country.
While the Deccan Chargers (DC) put retired Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist at the helm in place of VVS Laxman, the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) waited for the team to touch South African shores before taking the crown away from Sourav Ganguly and handing it to New Zealand wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum.
On Sunday when the teams clash in Cape Town, not only will the two new skippers be expected to lead their teams from the front but also have to be considerate towards the ‘legends’ they’ve replaced, lest they alienate the Indian cricket lovers.
The owners of the two teams know fully well that one wrong move and one wrong word spoken on the field would sent temperatures soaring back home.
KKR owner Shah Rukh Khan was candid when he said: “I know just too well how acerbically I will be criticised for removing Ganguly from the captaincy if my team loses tomorrow. But we are working on a long-term strategy which hopefully will produce results five-six years down the line and people will then say we were right.”
His contention that Ganguly would now be able to play freely hasn’t gone down well with Dada’s fans. There are many in the team who are also not happy with the decision.
KKR can take heart from the fact that they are up against the weakest team in the tournament, but all that can change with one good batting or bowling performance. DC had lost 12 of the 14 matches last season and were placed last, while KKR, with six wins and seven losses, were sixth.
But DC, this time around, have players KKR don’t. They have South Africa’s Herschelle Gibbs is back in form after a century against Australia in the fourth ODI and an 84 in the last match on Friday. Also Adam Gilchrist and Rohit Sharma are no spring chickens.
All in all a contest among equals!