A buoyant Chennai Super Kings, pepped by the recent form of their skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, are fancying their chances against defending champions Deccan Chargers in their opening game of the third edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in Chennai on Sunday.
The Chargers, led by charismatic Adam Gilchrist, would be smarting from their shock defeat to Kolkata Knight Riders, the league's cellar dwellers in Mumbai Friday night when the eight-team competition was lit by a spectacular opening ceremony. The Super Kings will look go in for the kill against a side that would be little bit down on morale, if nothing else.
The pitch, historically known for the pronounced bounce and movement, could influence the outcome. Matthew Hayden, the Super Kings opener and last year's top run-getter, did provide a clue on the nature of the pitch on the sidelines of the launch of the evolutionary Mongoose bat when he said the pitch had characteristics that favoured the batsmen.
If that is so then the Super Kings, semi-finalists last season and runners-up in 2008, look the better equipped with Hayden, Parthiv Patel, Suresh Raina, Subramaniam Badrinath and Dhoni forming a formidable batting line-up. But then, given the vicissitudes of Twenty20, there are no guarantees and only the form on the day matters.
The last time the two teams met at this venue, undergoing massive renovation on the eastern wing, the Chargers caught a depleted Super Kings on their way down after two consecutive defeats and successfully chased a target of 145 to win by seven wickets and two overs to spare. Super Kings later avenged this defeat in Hyderabad.
The story was much the same last season when the Chargers were on the hop at East London, South Africa, being dismissed for 100 in the 15th over to Super Kings total of 178 after having won the previous game at Durban by six wickets.
Thus, it is even-Stevens between the two teams in head-to-head context and that alone would inject considerable suspense in Sunday's game.
The game is likely to be more of a batting contest given the firepower the two teams possess as against a comparative tepid bowling attack. However, the Super Kings believe they have far more bowling options this time around with the inclusion of South African all-rounder Justin Kemp who is expected to cover for key absentees Andrew Flintoff and Jacob Oram.
Likewise, the Chargers have to make do without their West Indian imports, notably fast bowler Kemar Roach who would have probably enjoyed bowling on the Chepauk pitch Sunday, and compatriot Dwayne Smith.
For all the pre-match bravado, it remains to be seen whether the Chargers can shrug off their shock defeat and refocus while the Super Kings tighten up their bowling, especially in the death overs that cost them quite a few matches in the past.
Both teams are likely to delay nominating their playing eleven until they have a look at the pitch that is out of bounds Saturday in view of the inauguration of Secretariat building close to the ground by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.