After all the razzmatazz of the opening ceremony, it is time for fireworks on the field. It is the opening game of the Pepsi IPL 2013 and features defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders and the Delhi Daredevils.
The Knight Riders were a daunting outfit under Gautam Gambhir last season, besting then defending champions Chennai Super Kings, who were favourites, in their own backyard in the title clash. They begin this season as firm favourites, given the fact that they have retained the core of the team that did duty for them last season.
The Delhi Daredevils on the other hand have been among the consistent performers in the history of the IPL, finishing in the top four in three off the five seasons that have been played out. They will be hoping to put in that extra bit to get above and will certainly look to lay their hands on the beautiful trophy at the end of the competition.
Wednesday, March 3, 2013, 8 p.m
Eden Gardens, Kolkata
For Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, there is more at stake than just helping their teams win the IPL. Both players, who combined together to form India’s most successful opening pair (in terms of runs), will want to prove to themselves and to the men who matter that there is still a lot of cricket left in them. Gautam Gambhir led by example in his team’s run-up to the title last season and he will be keen for a repeat of that performance.
Virender Sehwag, recovering from back spasms, will be playing without the burden of captaincy and he will want to get back to being the devastating batsman the world knows him to be.
There are several other players to look out for. In the Delhi Daredevils line-up, look out for the young Unmukt Chand who recently scored consecutive centuries in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 competition and also Umesh Yadav who announced his return to competitive cricket with a five-wicket haul in the same tournament.
In the Knight Riders line-up, keep your eyes trained on the ever-reliable Jacques Kallis and the dangerous Yusuf Pathan. Kallis, who has looked rusty recently, will want to hit the straps immediately while Yusuf Pathan will want to add consistency to his game in addition to carrying the reputation of being a match-winner.
The Kolkata Knight Riders and the Delhi Daredevils have so far met on nine occasions, with the former having a slight edge with five wins. In the last battle between the two, it was the Knight Riders who get the better of the Daredevils in the Play-Off match in IPL 2012.
The Kolkata Knight Riders will be keen to improve on their home record from last season. Gambhir’s team won nine of their ten away fixtures in 2012, but only managed to win three off the seven matches in their backyard.
David Warner will have fond memories of playing against the Kolkata Knight Riders, for it was against them that he scored his maiden IPL century.
Both teams will square off against the Rajasthan Royals in their next fixtures. The Delhi Daredevils will play host to Rahul Dravid’s team on April 6 while the Kolkata Knight Riders will line-up against the Royals at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on April 8.