Talks on fatigue dominated the build-up to IPL-4. To understand that it's a non-issue for the players, one had to be at the Eden Gardens on Sunday afternoon.
Having played a match in Hyderabad a day earlier, the Deccan Chargers checked into the team hotel shortly before noon and instead of taking rest, the players were off for practice for a good two hours at around 2pm.
The stakes are high and having lost the opening match, the visitors have to target the Kolkata Knight Riders as the team to collect their first points from. That the hosts too will look to open their account after the opening upset, raises the stakes further in the match.The teams are wearing a new look, and it's too early to judge how the players have combined, and this is the most unpredictable format of the game. It's difficult to say who holds the edge, but going by reputation, it seems as if it's going to be a battle between the batting of the Knights and the attack of the Chargers.
In Dale Steyn, Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ojha and Amit Mishra, Kumar Sangakkara's bowling unit has the cutting edge, pace, experience, exuberance and enough of the slow variety to dismantle a good batting side with a little assistance from the pitch. Now, this is something that might bother Sangakkara a bit. The playing strip at the Eden Gardens looks flat and firm, which might discourage those who make the ball move off the surface.
Given the overall destructive potential of the Knight Riders' batsmen and their individual abilities, they would like the pitch more than the bowlers in their team. A failed gamble in deciding the batting order and some late panic made them look pale on Friday, but they have what it takes to score at a brisk pace.
So, Steyn gunning for the scalp of compatriot Jacques Kallis, Ishant firing the ball at Delhi teammate Gautam Gambhir — there are some exciting contests on the cards. The World Cup matches at the Eden were damp affairs, but now, sparks are set to fly.
Curious faces outside the stadium, hectic movement inside it and some activity in front of the ticket counters, Eden too looks ready to rock once Shah Rukh Khan takes his seat to cheer his Knights against the wounded Chargers.