Kochi v Bangalore, IPL 2011, Kochi April 8, 2011

Kochi debuts against new-look Bangalore


Match facts

Saturday, April 9
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)

Big picture

Surprise, surprise! After being in the news for all the wrong reasons for the best part of a year, Kochi is finally going to play a game of cricket. It all started off with a seemingly harmless tweet from Lalit Modi. From there, the Kochi controversy morphed into an unstoppable avalanche that knocked Shashi Tharoor out of the Indian cabinet of ministers, and Modi off his pedestal as the IPL commissioner. If the franchise's off-field giant-slaying abilities are anything to go by, their on-field opponents better watch out.

The Kochi consortium might be tangled in an unintelligible ownership mess, much like a batsman who can't read Muttiah Muralitharan's doosra, but the team is filled with players known to take ownership of the sides they play for. Captain Mahela Jayawardene and Murali will still be smarting from Sri Lanka's loss in the World Cup final. Brad Hodge will have a point to prove to the selectors of the Australian team. VVS Laxman will have a point to prove to himself, that he can flourish in Twenty20 with the finesse he brings to the purest form of the game. And then, there is Sreesanth who, when he sets his mind to it, can produce deliveries that force batsmen of Jacques Kallis' calibre into performing back flips at the crease.

Kochi's IPL debut will be against a Bangalore outfit that is virtually unrecognisable from last year, barring Virat Kohli. Among the new names is Tillakaratne Dilshan, who gave Kohli the most vociferous of send-offs after dismissing him in the World Cup final. The team also brings Daniel Vettori and AB de Villiers together, just over a week after they confronted each other in a charged-up World Cup quarter-final. Dale Steyn has been lost in the auction, but Zaheer Khan and Dirk Nannes have come in. Bangalore have picked a strong bunch of foreign players, but seem a trifle short on quality local batsmen. After two very good seasons that ended in heartbreak, will Bangalore finally find a path to IPL glory?

Team talk

Barring fitness concerns, Bangalore's overseas picks are automatic selections. Captain Vettori will surely play the in-form Dilshan and de Villiers, while Nannes should relish sharing the new ball with Zaheer. There is a question mark over who Dilshan's opening partner will be, and the toss-up could be between Mayank Agarwal and Jonathan Vandiar, though the latter's inclusion would mean having to leave one of the other foreign players on the bench. Abhimanyu Mithun and Mohammad Kaif are likely to get a game.

Brendon McCullum and Jayawardene should form an interesting contrast at the top for Kochi. Murali, if fit, should walk into the XI, while Thisara Perera could get a game in the lower-middle order, giving the side a distinct Sri Lankan flavour. RP Singh and Ramesh Powar are expected to complete the bowling line-up.

In the spotlight

Saurabh Tiwary and Cheteshwar Pujara represent two sides of the same coin. Tiwary stands back in the crease and thumps the ball with fierce arms, looking for midwicket with the assiduity of a left-handed MS Dhoni. Pujara, on the other hand, invokes Rahul Dravid in his temperament and technique, keeping his drives down, and finishing with his leading elbow high and showing the full face of the bat. Both met with success in the previous IPL, for different teams, and earned call-ups to the senior team, in different formats. This year, they could form crucial additions to the middle order of the top-heavy Bangalore line-up.

Ravindra Jadeja has it all to do, once again. He was branded a 'superstar' by Shane Warne at the end of IPL 2008, and went on to earn a permanent spot in the Indian one-day line-up. Things have fallen apart for him since, starting with being banned for the 2010 IPL season after trying to negotiate a contract by himself. He has fallen out of the radar of the India selectors now, and a solid performance here will go a long way in re-establishing his oft-questioned credentials as an allrounder.

Prime numbers

  • Between them, Dilshan and de Villiers mustered only 155 runs in 13 innings in IPL 2010 for Delhi. Will the change in team result in a change in fortunes?

  • Jayawardene was one of only five centurions in IPL 2010, and finished the season as the sixth-highest run-getter, with 439 runs.

  • Murali was Chennai Super Kings' highest wicket-taker last year, with 15 wickets. Zaheer Khan, playing for Mumbai, also finished with 15 scalps.

    The chatter

    "I can compare the Bangalore team to the South African international team. I've played a lot of cricket and I know that the teams that do well are always the teams that have a good team spirit. The previous team couldn't win the trophy, so hopefully we can change something in that line"
    AB de Villiers indicates there is a good vibe in the Bangalore side.

    Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

  • Comments have now been closed for this article

    • Adrian on April 9, 2011, 14:50 GMT

      I think that these 2 teams are the 2 best teams in the IPL. Should be a classic encounter. My tip is Kochi to win in a nailbiter.

    • Dummy4 on April 9, 2011, 13:39 GMT

      undoubtedly RCB s the best feilding side. if they have an regular keeper. de villers will feild. kohli, tiwary & pujara are also great fielders. kaif is the best among them & so is dilshan so its kohli, kaif, de villers, tiwary, pujara & dilshan. coming to its bowling its also the best with zaheer, nannes & vettori with dilshan supporting them. now they have to gamble with 2 players if mithun plays, he ll sort out the option of 3rd seamer & will bpast bowling. the only thing left is an opening partner of dilshan. intrestingly id de villers don keep, then the left out player should be the keeper. so it can be m gautam or if they make de villers keep then mayank agarwal may get a chance since he s an opening batsmen & gautam is an middle-order so to solv out it should b agarwal. dilshan, mayank agarwal, kohli, de villers, pujara, tiwary, kaif, vettori, mithun, zaheer & nannes one of the best & if it clicks one of the deadliest playing XI

    • Rajeev on April 9, 2011, 13:27 GMT

      My team for today.. Jayawardane McCullum Laxman Parthiv Tanmay Hodge Jadeja Powar Sreesanth R P Singh Murali

      However I choose, the team looks weak. The Indian batsmen like Laxman and Parthiv will have to be taken into the team irrespective of their form!!

    • Dummy4 on April 9, 2011, 11:46 GMT

      sree can try to emulate his success at the world cup... he is trying to shell out 100 run in 4 overs....see of Bangalore can take it.... Bangalore PLZ PLZ help him achieve that success.................

    • Dummy4 on April 9, 2011, 11:36 GMT

      Its sad to see such lack of initiative from the authorities...they seem to forget or dont seem to realize the importance of the IPL matches to Kochi and Kerala in general. A good show could spring board the city among regular venues for international matches. There is no hoarding or flex boards advertising the team anywhere in the city...not even at the venue (at least it was't up till about 11 pm last night)...there seems to be a general lack of interest.One of the roads leading to the stadium is in ruins and this while road maintenance in other parts of the city are being carried out in full swing! It is a new team and a new franchise, the owners should have taken that extra bit of effort to familiarize the local population with the team. Kochi has a decent team and a public which is enthusiastic and knowledgeable about sport. If only the authorities (KCA, Kochi corporation, GCDA) wake up and smell the coffee, it would make for a good IPL experience.

    • Prasanth on April 9, 2011, 10:59 GMT

      Why MrSKDEV is purposefully fighting against sreesanth . He is a fantastic bowler who won the test match against south africa in the last tour .Mr.SK dev is commenting on his abilities based on two matches ...You are absolutely wrong .Mr Perera does not have the class of opening bowler of No1 test team in the world... Do try to demotivate sreesanth through your comments .Otherways i feel you have a hidden agenda behind it...

    • Dummy4 on April 9, 2011, 8:44 GMT

      All the best to Kochi side. They have a formidable side with Mahela, VVS, Macallum, Brad Hodge and Owais Shah with a bowling attack of Sreesanth and Thisara Perera. Should do well reasonably.

    • Bijoy on April 9, 2011, 5:46 GMT


    • Devinda on April 9, 2011, 4:50 GMT

      what about tissara perera. their talking about sreesanth who conseeded 60 runs and didn't even complete his 10 overs instead of thisara perera who hit22 from 9 and got gambhir bowled!

    • Dummy4 on April 9, 2011, 1:35 GMT

      Kochi tweated their 22-men squad without Jadeja and Parthiv last week.

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