The irony is unmissable: It's early days yet but Kolkata have two wins from two and are looking down at Chennai, who find themselves in the unfamiliar depths of the points table. As Chennai chase their first win Sourav Ganguly comes up against his spiritual heir MS Dhoni under the lights at Eden Gardens.
Kolkata have been here before; they won their first two games in the first season, only to fizzle out and finish sixth. They ended up last the next season but now look to have shrugged that off and stride to a new momentum.
Chennai, on the other hand, were outclassed by their southern neighbours Deccan Chargers in their opening match, left floundering in all departments. However, they lost their opening match last season as well, against Mumbai Indians, but eventually reached the semi-final for the second year running and Dhoni knows his team's bouncebackability.
While the threat of Matthew Hayden and his Mongoose bat looms large, Kolkata will be eager to get Shane Bond going in the third season. He finished as New Zealand's top wicket-taker in the recently-concluded ODI series against Australia with nine wickets at 21, and rather than replacing Charl Langeveldt, he might be part of a three-pronged pace attack along with Ishant Sharma. Rohan Gavaskar might be the casualty in that case. Alternatively, Kolkata may not wish to change a winning combination.
Makhaya Ntini has been out of favour with the South African selectors but recently played his part in Warriors' Pro20 title triumph in the domestic circuit with a decisive opening spell. With Chennai's pacemen looking suspect, Dhoni might be tempted to draft him in and capitalise on his freshness. Manpreet Gony, who shot into prominence during the IPL, might also look to make the most of the stage again if picked. Justin Kemp, who couldn't match up with bat or ball in the last match, may be the one sacrificed. Parthiv Patel did decently in the 2008 edition, scoring 302 runs at 27.45 but his stock dipped the following year, scoring only 142 runs at 15.77. Whether he is favoured over Murali Vijay, who managed 3 against Deccan, in the opener's slot remains to be seen as well.
Kolkata were thumped by Chennai by nine wickets in the first IPL clash and lost by three runs via the D/L method at home. Fortunes turned around in South Africa with Kolkata winning by seven wickets at Centurion, while the earlier encounter was washed out.
In the spotlight
Lop-sided Morkel: He usually makes up for his expensive spells with some big hitting, but Albie Morkel's credentials as an allrounder have recently taken a beating with him failing to plug the runs. He went wicketless against Deccan and his four overs cost 41 runs. The fireworks though were on display as he smashed 41 off 26 balls, including one four and three sixes, during the chase. The dual effort would only be in the best interest of Chennai, who are tottering on the fast-bowling front.
Home comforts for Tiwary: He was almost anonymous during his stint with the Delhi Daredevils, but the company of his Bengal team-mates seems to have worked wonders for Manoj Tiwary. He quickly made amends for a first-ball duck against Deccan in the opening match with a Man-of-the-Match-deserving 50 off 29 balls next up against Bangalore.
The Mongoose: It was on display only in the Chennai dugout during their first match, but the imposing Matthew Hayden, its brand ambassador, might resort to this even more imposing weapon in the cauldron of Eden. The longer and flexible handle, designed to increase power by 20% and bat speed by 15% than normal ones might be the perfect way to ensure the spectators stay wide awake well into the Kolkata night.
Kolkata will hope Angelo Mathews' contributions only get better. He has a batting average of 65.00 and has five wickets from two games at 9.20 and a measly economy rate of 5.75.
Kolkata possess the two highest run-scorers in Twenty20 cricket. Hodge has 2547 runs in 77 innings at a strike-rate of 129 and David Hussey has scored 2355 runs at a strike-rate of 139.
"I guess I was slowly fading from the collective consciousness. This innings is a reassuring factor for me that I am still very much around" Manoj Tiwary's back in business
"CSK have been one of the most consistent teams in the IPL - runners-up the first year and semifinals in 2009. This year we're more than ready to take the step up." Chennai's bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad believes the time is now