Kings XI Punjab v Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL, Durban April 20, 2009

Teams keen to get off the blocks

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Match facts

April 21, 2009
Start time 12.30pm (10.30GMT)

Big Picture

Both Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders lost the opening game of their IPL campaigns on a rainy Sunday in Cape Town and the teams are now preparing to take on each other in Durban, where unfortunately the weather forecast for Tuesday is also bleak.

Punjab, however, will not be too disheartened even though Delhi beat them by ten wickets at Newlands. Their innings was curtailed to 12 overs by rain and further showers reduced Delhi's target to 54 in six overs, leaving Punjab's bowlers with little chance. The highlight of the game for Punjab was the performance of their openers, Ravi Bopara and Karan Goel, who added 67 at more than ten runs an over.

Kolkata, on the other hand, had a horrid outing against Deccan Chargers. Their pre-tournament build up was fraught with controversy over the multiple-captain theory and the issue was laid to rest only days before their first match, with Brendon McCullum taking over the leadership duties from Sourav Ganguly. The unrest reflected in their performance: Kolkata were 34 for 4 after 10.4 overs and the top-score was Brad Hodge's 31. Unlike those of other franchises, Kolkata's owner Shahrukh Khan was vocal about his disappointment over his team's performance and another poor outing will only increase pressure and criticism levels.

Player form guide

Punjab: The openers Goel and Bopara surprised a few people with the power with which they hit the ball against Delhi. Both of them played aggressive cameos while Yuvraj also smashed a couple of sixes before he was run out. The bowlers - Yusuf Abdulla and Vikramjeet Malik in particular - barely had a work out because of the shortened innings but they withered under a fierce onslaught from Virender Sehwag.

Kolkata: The explosive opening combination of Chris Gayle and McCullum failed against Deccan and the rest of the batsmen followed suit. The bowling did not inspire either - Ashok Dinda was the only one who took a wicket - as Deccan needed to take no risks to meet an asking-rate of less than six an over.

Watch out for

Karan Goel: He opened for Punjab, when quite a few expected Kumar Sangakkara to partner Bopara, and thrived against the new ball. He began by powering the ball square on the off side but the shots that stood out were his sixes over wide long-on after charging the fast bowlers.

Brendon McCullum and Chris Gayle: They are one of two overseas opening combinations in the tournament. Both batsmen are dynamic hitters but both failed against Deccan. Don't bet on both failing once again.

Friendly fire

Ishant Sharma v Yuvraj Singh: The last two times Yuvraj batted at Kingsmead, he smashed 58 off 16 balls against England, and 70 off 30 balls against Australia during the World Twenty20. Ishant will hope to have more success against him than Stuart Broad and Stuart Clark did.

Team news

Punjab are likely to play the same overseas players as they did against Delhi, unless they want to give Burt Cockley a go instead of Yusuf Abdulla. There isn't too much reason to change the Indian players either because they barely had chance to succeed or fail in the first game.

Punjab: 1 Ravi Bopara, 2 Karan Goel, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Yuvraj Singh (capt), 5 Mahela Jaayawardene, 6 Irfan Pathan, 7 Piyush Chawla, 8 Taruwar Kohli, 9 Vikramjeet Malik, 10 VRV Singh, 11 Yusuf Abdulla.

Kolkata did not play Sri Lankan spinner Ajantha Mendis in the first game, choosing to give the fourth overseas-player's slot to Australian allrounder Moises Henriques. However, they might think about including Mendis, given that their others managed to take only one Deccan wicket among them.

Kolkata: 1 Brendon McCullum (capt & wk), 2 Chris Gayle, 3 Sourav Ganguly, 4 Brad Hodge, 5 Aakash Chopra, 6 Laxmi Ratan Shukla, 7 Moises Henriques, 8 Ajit Agarkar, 9 Murali Kartik, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Ashok Dinda.

Head-to-head record

Punjab won their first match against Kolkata in the 2008 IPL by nine runs but lost the second game by three wickets in a last-over finish.

George Binoy is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo