First match: Reigning Champs KKR to face Mumbai
Keen to put the Sunil Narine controversy behind them, Kolkata Knight Riders will begin their title defence against a formidable Mumbai Indians in the IPL cricket opener at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday.
The West Indies mystery spinner, who was reported for suspect action and went on to miss the recently-concluded World Cup, was kept waiting before getting a clean chit by the BCCI on Sunday.
A team which has gone on to win two titles since the acquisition of the Trinidad off-spinner in 2011 faces the biggest challenge this year as Narine's effectiveness with a re-modelled action is yet to be seen.
With a slew of spinners in their armoury and a couple of chinaman bowlers, KKR will look to thrive on the slow nature of Eden surface. On the field, both the sides match equally on paper but with little baggage of the past and some hard-hitting players in Corey Anderson, Kieron Pollard and new signing Aaron Finch will give an edge to Mumbai Indians.
The chief architect of the win against RR in last edition, Anderson, who smashed an unbeaten 95 from 44 balls, will once again play a crucial role along with this year's star acquisition in Australian opener Finch. With Rohit in the chart Mumbai Indians look a mighty batting line-up capable of terrorising any bowling side.
KKR batting is equally strong and tested with last year's top run-getter Robin Uthappa leading the brigade. Uthappa also occupied the pole position in the Ranji Trophy with 912 runs from 11 matches as the opener along with skipper Gautam Gambhir would look to give the perfect start before the likes of Manish Pandey, Suryakumar Yadav take charge.
As far as the foreign recruits are concerned, world no 1 all-rounder and Bangladeshi star Shakib Al Hasan will play a crucial role, while the likes of Johan Botha, Brad Hogg and Azhar Mahmood may come handy. While Lasith Malinga and R Vinay Kumar will lead the pace line-up for MI, the home side will have Morne Morkel and Umesh Yadav who will look to carry forward their World Cup success.
Off the field, Mumbai Indians' support staff bench is one to look forward to. With three-time World Cup winner Ricky Ponting as coach and Sachin Tendulkar as the team icon, the star-studded support team which will also have John Wright, Jonty Rhodes, Shane Bond, Kiran More, Paras Mhambrey and Rahul Sanghvi. Mumbai Indians will not be short on ideas but it will be for only one team to whip up the perfect recipe.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (c), Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Suryakumar Yadav, Ryan ten Doeschate, Shakib Al Hasan, Yusuf Pathan, Andre Russell, Kuldeep Yadav, Morne Morkel, Patrick Cummins, Piyush Chawla, Sunil Narine, Johan Botha, Azhar Mahmood, Umesh Yadav, Veer Pratap Singh, James Neesham, Brad Hogg, Aditya Garhwal, Sumit Narwal, KC Cariappa, Vaibhav Rawal and Sheldon Jackson.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (c), Aaron Finch, Ambati Rayudu, Abhimanyu Mithun, Aditya Tare, Parthiv Patel, Keiron Pollard, Corey Anderson, Lasith Malinga, Harbhajan Singh, Jasprit Bumrah, Josh Hazlewood, Marchant de Lange, Pawan Suyal, Shreyas Gopal, Lendl Simmons, Pragyan Ojha, Mitchell McClenaghan, Aiden Blizzard, Akshay Wakhare, Nitish Rana, Sidhesh Lad, Hardik Pandya, Jagadeesha Suchitch, Unmukt Chand and R Vinay Kumar.
News Posted: 7 April, 2015