If there is a team which cannot wait for the new IPL season to start, it is Shah Rukh Khan's Kolkata Knight Riders. The scars on the psyche, due to repeated failures, are so deep that every step forward is overwriting of bitter memories. Dogged by controversies and lack of success in the opening three seasons, captain Gautam Gambhir's team has a lot to prove.
The desperation to overhaul is evident as the team management has made a conscious effort to get rid of the old baggage (only two players have been retained).
The management may have hurt a few local sentiments by ignoring Sourav Ganguly, but on paper, the line-up looks exciting. Though a few key players will miss the start of the league, Gambhir should be happy with the foreigners at his disposal - Ryan ten Doeschate, Jacques Kallis, Eoin Morgan, Brett Lee and Shakib Al Hasan.
Winning back disenchanted fans is not easy, but Gambhir made the right noises on the eve of their opening game.
"Whatever has happened during the last three years is history. You have got to look forward and we are moving forward. We are concentrating on the upcoming tournament. We have a great support staff and talented bunch of boys. There is no extra pressure on us," said Gambhir.
The left-hand opening batsman, high on confidence after his World Cup-winning knock of 97 on Saturday, vowed to do his best. "It is the City of Joy and if we can bring joy to the people of Kolkata, it will be our biggest achievement. Winning or losing in not in our hands but if we play good cricket, entire Kolkata will support us as they are such great followers of sport," he said.
In a league where the momentum can slip after one bad session, Gambhir has his task cut out. His team's resolve will be put to severe test on the first day itself as they run into the defending champions - Chennai Super Kings - on Friday.
The stage is set for the contest as all eyes will be on the battle between MS Dhoni and Gambhir. "Dhoni is not (the inspiration for me); I think India is the inspiration for me... What MS does is what he does. For me, it is important what I do and concentrate on the game tomorrow," said Gambhir.