Kolkata: Eyeing a repeat of their success last season, Kolkata Knight Riders will open their title defence with a clash against a depleted Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League on Wednesday. (Agencies)
Expectations will be high from the home side as they would aim to become only second team to win back-to-back titles. Only Chennai Super Kings have won consecutive trophies (2010 and 2011).
For Delhi, who are yet to win the title, it would be a season to make amends as they look at life without English swashbuckler Kevin Pietersen who has been ruled out for the entire tournament due to a knee injury.
Delhi will also miss out on explosive Kiwi batsman Jesse Ryder who was to begin his USD 300,000 contract before a brutal assault in a Christchurch bar left him hospitalized.
KKR will hope to unleash another 'mystery' spinner in Lankan offie Sachitra Senanayake in the upcoming season.
Jacques Kallis will lend experience to the middle order, while the home grown players of Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Manoj Tiwary, Manvinder Bisla and Debabrata Das would also come in handy.
KKR also have a balanced pace-spin attack. Brett Lee, who will double up as a bowling mentor in absence of Wasim Akram, will lead the pace attack with fellow Aussie James Pattinson.
Laxmipathy Balaji, who was most economical last season, will add variety to the attack along with the part-timers in Rajat Bhatia and Shukla.
Skipper Mahela Jayawardene is coming from an injury lay-off and he too would look to get into the groove sooner.
In such a scenario, it's the exuberance of U-19 winning skipper Unmukt Chand, who has two successive centuries for Delhi in the just concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, that would come to fore.
In the sixth season, nine teams will battle it out in a total of 76 matches, over a period of seven weeks with summit clash slated for May 26.
Rajasthan Royals were the first champions, in 2008. Deccan Chargers won the title in 2009, when the tournament was played in South Africa. Chennai Super Kings won back to back titles in 2010 and 2011 while Kolkata Knight Riders scaled the summit last year.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (captain), Brad Haddin, Brett Lee, Debabrata Das, Eoin Morgan, Iqbal Abdulla, Jacques Kallis, James Pattinson, Laxmipathy Balaji, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Manoj Tiwary, Manvinder Bisla, Shami Ahmed, Pradeep Sangwan, Rajat Bhatia, Ryan McLaren, Ryan ten Doeschate, Sachitra Senanayake, Sarabjit Ladda, Sunil Narine and Yusuf Pathan.
Delhi Daredevils: Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Ajit Agarkar, Andre Russell, Arisht Singhvi, Ashish Nehra, C M Gautam, David Warner,Gulam Bodi, Irfan Pathan, Jeevan Mendis, Johan Botha, Kedar Jadhav, Manpreet Juneja, Naman Ojha, Pawan Negi, Roelof van-der Morwe, Royston Dias, Siddharth Kaul, Sujit Nayak, Shahbaz Nadeem Umesh Yadav, Unmukt Chand,
Venugopal Rao, Virender Sehwag and Yogesh Nagar.
Match Starts: 8 pm IST.
Kolkata: Eyeing a repeat of their success last season, Kolkata Knight Riders will open their title defence with a clash against a depleted Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League on Wednesday.