A new-look Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) without Gautam Gambhir will take on a strong Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) led by Virat Kohli at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Sunday in the inaugural match of 2018 Indian Premier League (IPL).
Dinesh Karthik has replaced Gambhir, who led KKR for four years and won the IPL titles in 2012 and 2014. “I’m aware of the expectations. Whether there would be pressure, ‘yes’. As a captain, you’re expected to at least go to the playoffs, that’s the least anybody can expect,” Karthik had told reporters earlier.
This match will be a litmus test for Karthik to play against Kohli’s team, for whom the IPL title had remained elusive thrice in 2009, 2011 and 2016 despite coming closer to wrenching it.
The RCB has remained strong as ever though this time too, though their bowling team is still weak with Yuzvendra Chahal, Umesh Yadav, Washington Sundar and Tim Southee. But their batting team is strong with Kohli and proven IPL stars like AB De Villiers, Brendon McCullum, Corey Anderson and Quinton De Kock.
“We are optimistic about the season. It’s very very balanced side. In the 10 years that I’ve been here, I don’t think we’ve ever had such a balance. We had initially but everyone firing together is also a massive factor,” Kohli had been quoted as saying earlier about his team.
On KKR front, missing in action will be Australian pace spearhead Mitchell Starc who has been injured though Mitchell Johnson and England all-rounder Tom Curran fill the gap. Batsman Chris Lynn may revive his delieries.
KKR: Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Chris Lynn, Dinesh Karthik (captain), Robin Uthappa, Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Nitish Rana, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Mitchell Johnson, Shubman Gill, Vinay Kumar, Rinku Singh, Cameron Delport, Javon Searless, Apoorv Wankhade, Ishank Jaggi, Tom Curran.
RCB: Virat Kohli (captain), AB de Villiers, Sarfaraz Khan, Chris Woakes, Yuzvendra Chahal, Umesh Yadav, Brendon McCullum, Washington Sundar, Navdeep Saini, Quinton De Kock, Mohammed Siraj, Corey Anderson, Colin De Grandhomme, M. Ashwin, Parthiv Patel, Moeen Ali, Mandeep Singh, Manan Vohra, Pawan Negi, Tim Southee, Kulwant Khejroliya, Aniket Choudhary, Pavan Deshpande, Anirudha Ashok Joshi.