The Kolkata Knight Riders have an edge, at least on paper, against the Delhi Daredevils in their opening match at home. KKR would like to start afresh this season and everyone in the team must be hoping this year will finally bring them joy.
Brendon McCullum must be happy to be
back in the dressing room of which he has been a part for three years. He has even captained the side once. With the New Zealander in the side, KKR can hope for a blistering start in every game.
Brendon has matured even more and, I am sure, he is itching to start afresh with the new-look KKR outfit. With the Kiwi coming in, Jacques Kallis and Gautam Gambhir will be able to play more freely and concentrate on anchoring the side to a planned target. Brendon at the start, Yousuf Pathan in the middle and KKR have the firepower in batting. Kallis and Gambhir have shown recently that they are in fine touch. Add to this Manoj Tewari and the man in form this season, the late-order blaster, Laxmi Ratan Shukla. Delhi will really need to bowl well to dig deep into this batting line-up.
Tewari should use this platform to announce his arrival again. He is fighting to break into the middle-order of India's One-day team and he needs to utilise every opportunity he gets. Another man who will be a big bonus to this team is Shakib-al Hasan. The Bangladeshi is a huge utility player and KKR will find it difficult to leave him out.
Brett Lee will lead the KKR bowling and this department looks a bit weak in comparison to the batting resources available. L Balaji, Iqbal Abdulla, aidev Unadkat, Rajat Bhatia, Laxmi along with Shakib will have show variation in their bowling.
Delhi will be without Kevin Pietersen, Mahela Jayawardene and David Warner for some matches. Even Ross Taylor will start his campaign late, so, it will be crucial to see how well Andre Russell or Doug Bracewell fit in the early part of the tournament.
Two things will be crucial for KKR. First, how the Eden Gardens wicket behaves. Last year, it was not a favourable T20 wicket and the ball kept low and slow. Secondly, Gambhir's captaincy will hold centrestage. The young opener has lost his national team vice-captaincy and he would like to show the world that he is a candidate not to be ignored.
(The writer is the Pune Warriors captain)
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