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Kolkata take on Delhi in opener

Kolkata take on Delhi in opener
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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 IPL on Wednesday.  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 $300,000 contract before a brutal assault in a Christchurch bar left him hospitalised. Last season’s Purple cap holder, Morne Morkel (25 wickets), who bowled Titans to a semis place in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge in the South Africa domestic cricket, will also miss out on the opener. And if that was not enough, Virender Sehwag is also a doubtful starter for the tournament-opener as he is down with back spasm.

Having recovered from jaundice, KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir will be eager to start on a winning note under conditions best suited to them. It would be an important season for the India opener, who went through a rough patch and was discarded for the four-Test Australia series. The left-hander would be keen to be back among runs.

Among the foreign recruits, KKR will miss Brendon McCullum, who is down with a hamstring problem, while the recently-married Shakib Al Hasan is yet to report to the side. West Indian mystery spinner Sunil Narine, the second leading wicket-taker behind Morkel with 24 scalps, was instrumental in KKR’s success last season.

KKR will now 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.
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