Tournament opener hit by injuries
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
Big PictureFor much of IPL 2012, Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Daredevils were the form teams favoured to make it to the summit clash. Knight Riders got there and won it, putting the horrors of seasons past behind them. Daredevils always promised so much, but in 2012 they inexplicably left out top wicket-taker Morne Morkel from the knockout against Chennai Super Kings, a decision that contributed to their heavy defeat.
The pre-season build-up has been bad news for Daredevils, who have had to suffer high-profile pullouts. Kevin Pietersen will miss the entire tournament due to a knee injury sustained in New Zealand, while Jesse Ryder was set to fly to India before being assaulted in Christchurch. The franchise has just replaced him with the Australian batsman Ben Rohrer, but their troubles do not end there.
Virender Sehwag, who captained Daredevils last year, has been ruled out of the opening game on Wednesday after he suffered back spasms and was advised rest. Morkel will miss at least the first game because he is in South Africa representing Titans in the final stages of their domestic T20 competition. Mahela Jayawardene, who took over as full-time captain, will have to deal with a depleted batting line-up.
Knight Riders don't have a fully fit squad at their disposal either. Brendon McCullum is yet to join the squad in India, as he is recovering from a hamstring injury sustained during the England Tests. James Pattinson, the Australia fast bowler, is resting at home, as advised by Cricket Australia following the Test tour of India. Jacques Kallis is only just returning from injury and Gautam Gambhir, the captain, has just recovered from jaundice and insists he is fit to play from game one. On paper, Knight Riders look the stronger side and playing at home will give them an edge.
Players to watch
Mahela Jayawardene is coming off an injury layoff, having missed Sri Lanka's entire home series against Bangladesh. In the absence of Pietersen and Sehwag, much will be expected from the captain, who might position himself as an opener. He wouldn't have had much match practice going into tomorrow's game, so his team will hope he finds his touch straightaway.
Manvinder Bisla made the world sit up and take notice on May 27, 2012, the night of the IPL final. In a high-scoring game, Bisla smashed 89 off 48 balls to stun Chennai Super Kings and help Knight Riders to the title. An aggressive top-order batsman-cum-keeper, he played only seven games for Knight Riders last season. He should expect more this year, following that knock.
The teams met twice last season, both winning a game each. In the first match in Kolkata, a game reduced to 12 overs a side due to rain, Knight Riders managed 97 for 9, and Daredevils chased it down with five balls to spare. In the return match, Knight Riders hit back with a six-wicket win, with McCullum leading the way with a fifty.
Stats and trivia
- Knight Riders have a 5-4 edge in 10 IPL games between these two teams (one match abandoned). In the last five matches between these two teams, Knight Riders have won four and lost one.
- In IPL 2012, Knight Riders' spinners took the most wickets at the best average and economy rate: 43 at 19.65, conceding 6.34 runs per over. Daredevils' spinners were the least effective, taking 18 wickets at 40.72, with an economy rate of 7.63.
- The average run-rate for Daredevils' opening partnerships in all IPL matches is 8.87 runs per over, the best among all teams. Knight Riders' opening stands have been far more sedate - they average 7.46 runs per over.
"Being the defending champions does not add to the pressure, it only gives us some extra confidence."
Gautam Gambhir, the Knight Riders captain
"It is unfortunate that KP and Jesse Ryder will not be a part of the squad this season. [But] that probably gives some of us Indian batsmen an opportunity to put our hands up and perform well.
Unmukt Chand, the Daredevils batsman, on the immediate challenge facing the side
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo