Yuvraj the focus in Pune's debut
Sunday, April 10
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
The biggest talking point going into this match will be Yuvraj Singh. The "icon" player for Kings XI Punjab in the earlier seasons, their local hero, will now be leading the opposition. And this, after being removed as captain of Punjab in the second season. His forgettable 2010, when he lost his spot in the national team in both Tests and one-dayers, also included a miserable IPL season. All that changed at the World Cup: four Man-of-the-Match awards, capped off with the Man-of-the-Tournament honour tells the story. Pune will hope he can bring that form to the IPL, and inspire a young side.
Punjab, meanwhile, have jettisoned one overseas wicketkeeper-batsman as captain, and brought in another - Adam Gilchrist. Two more of their most important players are also Australians - the allrounder David Hussey, and opener Shaun Marsh. The squad is pretty thin on Indian talent, with the highest profile members being Praveen Kumar, Piyush Chawla and Dinesh Karthik, none of whom are bonafide matchwinners. In a tournament where domestic talent has been pivotal to success, Gilchrist and Co have a tough task on their hands.
Pune are missing several key personnel: allrounder Angelo Mathews is likely to miss the entire season with a leg injury that forced him out of the World Cup final; another player who couldn't play the World Cup final due to injury is Ashish Nehra, whose finger injury will keep him out of the first few matches of the IPL; and opener Manish Pandey has been banned for four matches after breaching the rules related to the signing of uncapped players.
Punjab may take a few matches to get their combination working, since some experimentation will have to be done in arriving at the best XI from a squad lacking big names who pick themselves. The only player they have from the World Cup-winning Indian squad is legspinner Piyush Chawla, who was a peripheral player in the campaign.
In the spotlight
Graeme Smith has had a torrid time with the bat over the past few months, but as one of the few players with plenty of experience in the squad, he will need to step up over the season.
Shane Warne eased back into cricket with a teasing spell of legspin bowling against Deccan Chargers on Saturday. Can Adam Gilchrist make a similarly seamless return after a year away from the game?
- Yuvraj Singh had no hundreds or half-centuries in Punjab's disastrous 2010 season
- Robin Uthappa maintained an astonishing strike-rate of 171.55 in the previous season
- Pune are the most expensive frachise in the tournament, and have the largest squad
"We don't have icon players but we also don't need icons. We have got a good bright team that has the right mix of experienced as well as new players."
Adam Gilchrist doesn't think the loss of local boy Yuvraj Singh will affect the team
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo