Right through the domestic season gone by, Delhi skipper Gautam Gambhir avoided playing the Ranji Trophy matches at the Ferozeshah Kotla as he didn’t consider the pitch result-oriented.
In fact, so unhappy was he that he reportedly had an ugly verbal spat with the then Kotla curator Venkat Sundaram earlier this year. Sundaram, who had resigned last month over non-payment of dues, is no longer in the picture but on Wednesday, Gambhir will return to Kotla as skipper of the Kolkata Knight Riders in their match against the Delhi Daredevils.
The much-maligned track has played pretty well and true in the first two games — seemingly ideal for T20s — with even 170 getting chased on Monday night, but then Gambhir’s side, inconsistent with the bat, will be under pressure to make use of the good batting conditions.
They have too many batsmen struggling for runs and among the top 15 run-getters, there is just one Kolkata batsman — Robin Uthappa.
However, this time they have a relatively weak bowling attack up against them. With no one who can run through the opposition, the Daredevils look easy meat although they’ll finally get some spine with the inclusion of Imran Tahir who finally joined the squad on Tuesday.
Both the Daredevils and Knight Riders are in the bottom half of the table with the Knights ahead only due to better run rate which has been good mainly due to mystery spinner Sunil Narine’s performance.
Gambhir himself has struggled for consistency although a good half-century in the last game was negated by a sudden collapse that sent his team to their fifth loss this season.
Ahead of this IPL season, he had said that he didn’t want to prove anything to anyone through the IPL and that followed a string of ducks before he began to rediscover his rhythm.
His opposite number Kevin Pietersen too hasn’t been able to inspire his side, and while there have been few good batting performances from JP Duminy, Murali Vijay and Dinesh Karthik, the hosts have failed to seal some close affairs.
Pietersen conceded, “Some moments have not gone our way, but we can guarantee we will continue playing the kind of cricket we played Monday night (against CSK).”