Eden Gardens, Kolkata
The first game of is here. Defending Champions (never thought you’d ever say this, did you?) Kolkata Knight Riders play perennial underachievers Delhi Daredevils at the most electrifying stadium in World Cricket- Eden Gardens, Kolkata.
It will also be known as the battle between two estranged opening batsmen- till date, India’s most successful opening pair- recently banished from Team India. Viru and Gauti. Besides them, it will also be a humungous battle for the Daredevils to prove that they will NOT be hampered by having no dynamic middle-order batsman after the exit of both KP and Ryder. To say Ryder is injured is an understatement, not so much for KP.
Kolkata Knight Riders (Champions 2012)
Shakib-Al-Hasan, their prime all-rounder and ex-Bangladesh captain, will not be available till mid-May due to an injury.
Premier T20 batsman McCullum and English upstart Morgan will leave in May for international duty.
Unmukt Chand reaches for the stars
The only team with 3 players- Manvinder Bisla, Balaji and Yusuf Pathan as two-time Champions.
The second team, after Rajasthan Royals in the 1st season, to beat CSK in a final.
Their co-owner Shahrukh Khan is banned from Wankhede in Mumbai.
Kallis is in his 38th year, and will continue to convince the world that he is a T20 anchor.
Ryan McLaren, a Mumbai Indians reject, is one of the only few in-form players entering the league- with Gambhir, Kallis, Haddin, Lee, Pathan (fresh from his wedding), McCullum and even Narine struggling with their form. But as we know, there is no such thing as ‘patches’ or ‘streaks’ in T20 cricket.
Manoj Tiwary and Iqbal Abdulla have been retained for their good work over the last two seasons.
McCullum still holds the highest league individual score- 158* v/s RCB in the first ever league game back in 2008.
Gambhir (968) needs 64 more runs to overtake Ganguly as KKR’s highest ever run-scorer.
Narine (24) needs 2 more wickets to overtake Ishant Sharma as KKR’s highest ever wicket-taker. Narine has taken 24 wickets in one season (2012).
KKR have won 5 out of their 9 games against the Daredevils.
KKR and DD played eachother on the inaugural day of the 5th season, with the Daredevils destroying KKR by 8 wickets. KKR went on to win the tournament.
Virender Sehwag is their highest scorer with over 2000 runs spanning from 2008- and was the highest run scorer for the Daredevils in 2012 with 495.
Morne Morkel (33) needs 3 more wickets to overtake Amit Mishra as DD’s leading wickettaker. Sehwag dropped his leading wicket taker of 2012 Morkel for the eliminator against Chennai SuperKings.
Yadav and Morkel were the most successful strike-bowling pair in 2012 with 44 wickets between them.
Daredevils were the wooden-spooners in 2011, and finished top of the league in 2012, before failing in the knockouts.
Chumps to Champs
Manprit Juneja and Unmukt Chand will be the young players to watch out for in 2013.
Jayawardene will be leading the Daredevils in this season, with Warner and Sehwag opening the batting.
Johan Botha has been bought by the Daredevils (after playing for RR last year), and could be a useful all-rounder along with the underperforming Irfan Pathan and Andre Russell.
Sehwag is the only league player in history to score 5 50s in a row (2012).
Delhi Daredevils had two centurions in 2012- Warner and KP- both played just 8 games in the league’s 5th edition.
Conclusion: There is no ‘on form’ in the first match of the season. This game could set the tone for the rest of the 2013 season, with KKR looking to become the second team after CSK to defend their title successfully. KKR and DD are known to start their seasons strongly, tapering off towards the end- until KKR reversed that trend in 2012, ultimately outplaying perennial Champions CSK in the final.
Prediction: KKR will beat DD by a narrow margin to shake off the rust and begin in earnest.