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Battles within the war

The contest between Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir will be closely followed. Nilankur Das reports. Face-off | Bowling at death gives Super Kings the edge

india Updated: Apr 28, 2012 02:00 IST
Nilankur Das
Nilankur Das
Hindustan Times
Nilankur Das,Kolkata Knight Riders,Gautam Gambhir

Even if the IPL does not quite qualify as cricket for the connoisseurs, it is bringing out small, interesting rivalries, thus enlivening the money-spinning tournament.

MS Dhoni has led the Chennai Super Kings against Virender Sehwag's Delhi Daredevils. Pune Warriors' skipper Sourav Ganguly returns to the Eden Gardens on May 5 to take on the Gautam Gambhir-led Kolkata Knight Riders, a team Dada marshalled not so long back.

But before that, Saturday's match between the Royal Challengers Bangalore and KKR will see India's new vice-captain Virat Kohli take on Gambhir, the man he replaced as deputy.

Whose day will it be?

RCB skipper, Daniel Vettori, is fit to play after missing the previous match against the CSK, and that would rob the fans of what could have been a mouth-watering first meeting of the Delhi boys - Virat and Gambhir - as opposing captains. But even then, the two would be closely watched.

Kohli and Gambhir had featured in a 205-run stand against Sri Lanka in the opening match of the Asia Cup at Dhaka last month, where both got to three figures. It was Kohli's maiden century as vice-captain and Gambhir's first since being sidelined.

The contrasting celebrations - Kohli was calm and composed, while Gambhir let out his emotions --- sent a strong signal that the senior pro was not happy with the selectors' decision to take away his vice-captaincy.

On Saturday, Kohli, who has struggled for runs in IPL V so far, would love to make a point at the Eden where three years back he and Gambhir had figured in a match-winning 150-run stand against Sri Lanka, with both getting centuries.

Still upset
Gambhir has snapped at the media every time he has been asked about losing vice-captaincy to the 23-year-old, who was the sole inspiring point during the disappointing trips to Australia and Dhaka for the Asia Cup.

Gambhir, it seems, is still upset with the Board's decision and that was very evident when he threw his bat in disgust after Manoj Tiwary turned him down for a second run in an earlier match.

The RCB haven't really missed Virat's sparkling form yet, sitting pretty as they are on a destructive batting line-up featuring Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers and Tillakaratne Dilshan, among others.

But the country would want to see Virat get back into the driver's seat, especially with the T20 World Cup coming up in Sri Lanka in September.

First Published: Apr 27, 2012 23:56 IST