Ganguly returns to Eden as opposition
Match factsSaturday, May 5, Kolkata
Start time 1600 (1030 GMT)
Although it is just one of the IPL's innumerable league games, the match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Pune Warriors at Eden Gardens has attracted special attention because of one player. Sourav Ganguly is coming home, ironically as captain of the away team. He is capable of rousing the passionate Eden Gardens crowd to feverish levels; his iconic status in Kolkata is comparable to Sachin Tendulkar's in Mumbai. Ganguly's return is expected to test the loyalties of the fans: home team or local legend?
If the India-South Africa ODI in 2005 is any indicator, Knight Riders could find parts of Eden Gardens cheering the opposition captain. Back then, during the height of the Ganguly-Chappell fracas, India were booed because Ganguly had been dropped from the squad. He was snubbed in the 2011 auction by Knight Riders and a similar scenario this time is not improbable, but passions may have cooled like Ganguly form has waned.
Ganguly, and Warriors, need all the inspiration they can get. They are second from bottom in the league, having lost six out of their previous seven games. In their most recent loss, to Mumbai, Warriors failed to chase 121, with Ganguly struggling to 16 off 24 balls. However, any revival against the most economical bowling attack this season will require resolve: Sunil Narine, the Knight Riders spinner, has taken 12 wickets and has an economy of 5.53, the second best after Lasith Malinga. But Warriors' hopes lie in plotting the fall of Knight Riders' batting, which has lacked substantial contributions from everyone except Gautam Gambhir. With another Bengal cricketer, Ashok Dinda, back to fitness Warriors' bowling attack is better equipped to trouble Knight Riders.
The home team has been in good form coming into this game - four wins in a row - and they would aim to stay close to Delhi Daredevils at the top of the table. The stage is set for Ganguly's homecoming but fans will need to hope that the weather stays clear.
Form guide(most recent first, completed games)
Pune Warriors: LLLLW
Kolkata Knight Riders: WWWWL
Players to watch
Gautam Gambhir, the Knight Riders captain, has scored 365 runs with four half-centuries, and he has done it at strike-rate of 143.70, while his other hard-hitting teammates have struggled to force the pace.
Michael Clarke is new to the Warriors camp but he is expected to turn things around for a struggling team. He looked comfortable in his first two two games, but he will want to convert those starts. His class against spin could be key to negotiating a tricky Knight Riders attack.
Stats and trivia
- Sourav Ganguly has scored 496 runs in IPL matches in Kolkata at an average of 41.33. In IPL 2010 alone he scored 331 at an average of 55.16.
- Yusuf Pathan has hit 77 sixes in his IPL career. However, only three of them have come this season.
- Knight Riders' bowling is the most economical this season, giving away only 6.79 runs per over. Warriors are fourth with an economy of 7.61.
"Any match at Eden Gardens is my home match"
"If we're winning without him contributing much, it's a good sign for the team"
Gautam Gambhir on Yusuf Pathan's poor batting form.
Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.