Match factsApril 19, 2009
Start time 16.30pm (14.30GMT)
Big PictureNeither team had a campaign to remember last year, but here's an opportunity for both Kolkata Knight Riders and Deccan Chargers to begin afresh and improve significantly on what they did in 2008.
Kolkata have hogged the limelight in the build-up to IPL 2009, while Deccan Chargers have been virtually silent. Plenty has been written and said about John Buchanan's radical multiple captain theory, but Brendon McCullum's subsequent appointment as captain put to rest all the speculation. Sourav Ganguly said he was 'okay' with that decision, but he, and the other key players in the team, will need to play significant roles if Kolkata are to finish higher than last year's sixth place. In Chris Gayle and McCullum, they have potentially one of the most explosive opening combinations in the tournament, while Ishant Sharma and Ajantha Mendis could be quite a handful with the ball. First, though, they need to keep out the extraneous factors and concentrate on the cricket.
The Deccan Chargers haven't been in the news much, but after their disastrous season last year, they've probably decided that a low-key pre-tournament approach would serve them better. In Adam Gilchrist and Herschelle Gibbs, they have an opening pair to match Kolkata's but the bowling looks thin, and could well be their Achilles heel.
Player form guideDeccan: Gibbs is coming off a spanking century and an 82 in the last two ODIs against Australia, and the fact that those runs came in similar conditions makes him the best bet for Deccan. Most of the others, though, aren't in such sparkling form: Rohit Sharma has struggled since last year's IPL, VVS Laxman isn't known for his skills in this format, while Fidel Edwards hasn't proved himself in Twenty20 cricket either.
Kolkata: McCullum was in outstanding form during the series against India, while Gayle carted it around as well in the recent series against England. Mendis wasn't so effective against India, while Ishant Sharma was below par against New Zealand.
In from the coldAdam Gilchrist hasn't played any competitive cricket for more than a year - he retired after India's tour of Australia early last year. With him opening the batting, keeping wicket, and leading the team, much will depend on how ready he is for battle.
Sourav Ganguly played three List A games and one first-class match last season, but hasn't played top-class cricket since retiring from Tests in November last year.
Watch out forIshant Sharma v Gilchrist & Gibbs: Ishant was a more than handful for the Australians on their bouncy pitches last year, and in helpful conditions, he could pose plenty of questions for Deccan's openers. Equally, neither Gilchrist nor Gibbs will take a backward step, especially in this format, which could make for a spicy contest.
Friendly fireGayle v Edwards: If Edwards gets the new ball and finds his rhythm early, there could be some fireworks when he bowls to his West Indian captain.
Team newsWith Andrew Symonds away on national duty, Deccan are without one of their biggest crowdpullers and matchwinners. In his absence, there'll be added responsibility on Rohit to repeat last year's heroics. In conditions which should help seam and swing, Chaminda Vaas could be handy and should bag the allrounder's slot.
Deccan Chargers (probable) 1 Adam Gilchrist (capt & wk), 2 Herschelle Gibbs, 3 Ravi Teja, 4 VVS Laxman, 5 Rohit Sharma, 6 Venugopal Rao, 7 Chaminda Vaas, 8 Pragyan Ojha, 9 RP Singh, 10 DP Vijaykumar, 11 Fidel Edwards.
Like Deccan, Kolkata will miss an Australian too - David Hussey is readying himself for the ODIs against Pakistan, and in his absence Brad Hodge should get a chance as one of the four foreign players. Kolkata have a slight injury concern with Cheteshwar Pujara, who injured his knee during a warm-up game. If he doesn't recover, Vinit Indulkar or Sanjay Bangar might get a game. With the conditions being what they are, it's unlikely Kolkata will play two spinners, which suggests Murali Kartik will miss out.
Kolkata Knight Riders (probable) 1 Brendon McCullum (capt), 2 Chris Gayle, 3 Sourav Ganguly, 4 Brad Hodge, 5 Cheteshwar Pujara, 6 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 7 Laxmi Ratan Shukla, 8 Ajit Agarkar, 9 Ishant Sharma, 10 Ashok Dinda, 11 Ajantha Mendis.
Head-to-head recordDeccan opened their campaign last year too against Kolkata, and lost on a minefield of a pitch at the Eden Gardens by five wickets. The return game was a high-scoring one, and Kolkata won that too, by 23 runs.
Quotes"He [Ganguly] is an icon who has always had a way with younger players and it is wonderful to watch how they respond and react to him. I am sure that Sourav will be one of the chief motivators for the youngsters in the group this year as well."
Brendon McCullum, the new Kolkata captain, expects his predecessor to give him full support