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The Preview by Devashish Fuloria
October 12, 2012
Match factsOctober 13, 2012
Big PictureThe first match for the two IPL teams will not only be a tug of war for the first points or an opportunity to work-out their strategies for the tournament; the focus will also be on Delhi Daredevils' Kevin Pietersen, who is making a return to the field of play after his brief stint as a TV commentator.
Kolkata Knight Riders may need a shift from the bowling plans they employed in the IPL to suit the conditions in South Africa. The variations that worked well for L Balaji and Rajat Bhatia in India will need adjustments, and it remains to be seen what tricks they use to supplement their lack of pace. Sunil Narine and Jacques Kallis are the automatic choices, but Brett Lee hasn't had any cricket since Australia's ODI tour of England in July, where he managed just two wickets in three outings. His competition to get into the team will be primarily with Shakib Al Hasan. Batting-wise, the team will again look up to their captain Gautam Gambhir, despite his recent patchy form, Brendon McCullum and Kallis.
Daredevils, on the other hand, are much more settled. Their four first-choice overseas players - the captain Mahela Jayawardene, David Warner, Kevin Pietersen and Morne Morkel - are likely to play all the matches. Their pace-heavy bowling attack, which got batsmen hopping and ducking on benign pitches in the IPL, doesn't solicit a change and therefore, the team, on paper, will go into the match as favourites.
Watch out for...Daredevils' top order features three of the game's fiercest hitters - Virender Sehwag, David Warner and Pietersen - and that spells entertainment for the crowd. Pietersen, in his debut season for Daredevils, injected an aura into the team with his explosive batting. He played in less than half of the team's matches - eight - but was the third highest run-getter for the team with 305 runs at an average of 61. The highlights of his stay were the unbeaten 103 and the 20 sixes he racked up in the tournament. Warner came in after Pietersen left and added another century to his T20 tally, while Sehwag was at his consistent best - scoring five half-centuries in a row - on his way to amass 495 runs in the season.
Jacques Kallis was one of the pillars of Knight Riders' success in the IPL. He played in all the matches to score 409 runs and collect 15 wickets. But he has had a forgettable time after South Africa's successful tour of England. He failed to contribute with the bat - managing 24 runs in three innings - during the World T20 in Sri Lanka. However, in the familiar climes of South Africa, he will be one of the key players to guide the rest with both bat and ball.
Stats and trivia
Quotes"There are no favourites in this format, but we have the potential. I look around in the dressing room, and see a lot of greats of the game. If all of us play to our potential, we can go a long way in this competition."
"This is a different challenge. I was asked to do it and I felt since I captained Kochi and a few matches for Kings XI that I would do it this time."
Mahela Jayawardene on taking over the captaincy of Delhi Daredevils from Virender Sehwag
Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Devashish Fuloria
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