Mar 12, 2010



The third season of the Indian Premier League kicks off on Friday with defending champions Deccan Chargers taking on Kolkata Knight Riders, who finished last at the previous event.
Deccan scripted a fairytale last season when they overturned their disastrous campaign in the first season by lifting the title, and Kolkata Knight Riders would be drawing inspiration from their feat.


Kolkata have made a complete overhaul to their team management, with Sourav Ganguly being reinstated as captain and Dav Whatmore and Wasim Akram taking up the coaching duties. This after the team failed to impress under the leadership of Brendon McCullum and John Buchanan, who was coach in South Africa.

"The Knight Riders had a controversial approach last year," Gilchrist said of Kolkata's multi-captaincy theory. "But I think they would be more settled this time. I expect them to play aggressively."
With a majority of overseas players yet to join their respective squads due to their national duties, Kolkata and Deccan are going to be slightly short on firepower. However, the retired pros - Ganguly and Gilchrist - are set to take the field.
The match would be played in Mumbai's DY Patil stadium, after Hyderabad was stripped of hosting Deccan's home games due to political unrest. But Gilchrist sympathised with Hyderabad fans, but pointed out that they won the tournament away from home, which lifted pressure from the side.
Kolkata would miss the services of the explosive Chris Gayle and Brendon McCullum in the early stages of the tournament. They would be banking on Brad Hodge and new signing Owais Shah to bolster the middle order, while Manoj Tiwary and Rohan Gavaskar will be the local attractions.
Deccan, however, are very strong with the batting, with Gilchrist, Herschelle Gibbs, Andrew Symonds and Rohit Sharma all available. But their bowling looks fragile with new pace sensation Kemar Roach yet to join in. RP Singh has been out of favour in the Indian ranks, but he was the leading wicket-taker in 2009. Pragyan Ojha dons the spin mantle.
Kolkata are stronger on the bowling front with Indian bowlers Ishant Sharma, Ajit Agarkar and Murali Kartik all available for selection despite Shane Bond missing from action for the first game.
On paper, Deccan's batting might will be up against Kolkata's bowling, but it could well turn out to be the other way around if one glances at the format's unpredictable nature.


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