The Knight Riders have successfully stormed the Rajasthan Royals' fortress in Jaipur. Now it is time to turn Eden Gardens into a Knights' stronghold as the team prepares for a sequence of three home games in six days, beginning with Sunday's rematch against the Royals.
Their new captain, the forever-intense Gautam Gambhir, has steadfastly refused to look back on the Knight Riders' poor record in the first three seasons of the T20 League. "In it to win it," has been his mantra as he led his team to two comprehensive wins and one narrow loss in three matches in IPL 4. It is still early days, but it is a good start.
The IPL rarely gives a team such a quick opportunity to exact revenge as the Royals have got right now. In scenes that are usually associated with bilateral series, the Knight Riders and the Royals played a match in Jaipur on Friday, flew to Kolkata on Saturday and will line up against each other on Sunday.Gambhir has been all aggression whenever Royals' captain Shane Warne's name has been mentioned, stating in no uncertain terms that he has nothing to learn from the man who won the inaugural IPL. This is a battle between the man who many believe was the best captain Australia never had and the one who may one day captain India on a permanent basis. Gambhir won round one by bamboozling the Royals' batting line-up with frequent bowling changes and then launching a calculated attack on Warne to undermine their bowling. However, you would expect Warne to hit back hard in round two.
In the reshuffle of teams before IPL 4, the Royals lost Yusuf Pathan, whose fearsome hitting had played an invaluable role in the team winning the inaugural League. Yusuf's with the Knight Riders now and in his first match against his old franchise, picked up two cheap wickets. In the post-match press conference, Warne rued the loss of his talismanic player.
Gambhir, on the other hand, pointed out that all teams have been through the same process. Warne will have to pull a rabbit out of his bag to win this one.