Knight Riders have their task cut out

Calcutta/Centurion: After a disappointing performance in the just-concluded ICC World T20 in Sri Lanka, it will be a test of character for the Indian players in the Champions League T20 which enters the business stage from Saturday.

There are four Indian Premier League teams in the fray, including defending champions Mumbai Indians, this season's IPL winners Kolkata Knight Riders, 2010 winners Chennai Super Kings and Delhi DareDevils.

While the Knight Riders and DareDevils have been placed in Group A, the other two IPL teams are in Group B, raising the hopes of an all India clash in the semi-finals, as the top two teams from each group will qualify for the knockout stage.

The Indian challenge in the tournament will start with a battle between the Knight Riders and DareDevils in Centurion on Saturday.

While the Gautam Gambhir-led Knight Riders would be out there to prove that their victory in the IPL-V was no fluke, the DareDevils under new skipper, Mahela Jayawardene, would like to stamp their authority on the tournament in which they have so far remained the under-achievers.

The DareDevils have perhaps the most formidable batting line-up in the competition. In David Warner, Mahela Jayawardene, Kevin Pietersen, Virender Sehwag and Ross Taylor, they have five game-changers and individuals capable of winning matches single-handedly.

Warner, Jayawardene and Taylor were in good form in the recently-concluded ICC World Twenty20, and it will be important for them to carry that form into this tournament. Pietersen hasn't played too much cricket in recent times and will need to shrug off his rustiness quickly, as will Sehwag, who is returning from an injury.

The Knight Riders' bowlers will face a big test against these explosive batsmen. It remains to be seen if they will open the attack with Sunil Narine which had proved to be successful during IPL-V.

Gautam Gambhir needs to lead from the front, just like he did during their successful IPL-V campaign. Jacques Kallis and Brendon McCullum will be the two other key players in the KKR line-up.

The Knight Riders will obviously be looking up to McCullum to counter the DareDevils threat. The New Zealander is among the top-three run-getters in the T20 format; he has scored 4336 runs in 149 T20 matches (only behind David Hussey's aggregate of 4670 and Brad Hodge's aggregate of 4500 ).

There are no injury worries in the Knights' camp and all players are available for selection.

On the bowling front, the DareDevils will expect their battery of pacers ' Morne Morkel, Umesh Yadav and Irfan Pathan to do the bulk of the damage, while the Knight Riders will be hoping mystery bowler Narine to spin his magic yet again. The 24-year-old Narine was the West Indies' leading wicket-taker in the recently-concluded ICC World T20.

The Knight Riders have a slight edge over the DareDevils heading into this contest. In the ten previous meetings between the two teams, KKR have emerged victorious on five occasions, while the Delhi Daredevils have won four matches. One fixture in the 2008 season of the IPL was washed out.

The Knight Riders will be back in action on October 15 when they take on the Auckland Aces at the Newlands Stadium in Cape Town.

The DareDevils meanwhile will enjoy a five-day break before their next fixture ' against the Auckland Aces on October 19.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game

Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game

The former England batsman will have to lead the franchise as he is out of the match against Bangalore with a finger injury. More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

Mitchell Johnson may quit T20s for Test cricket

Mitchell Johnson may quit T20s for Test cricket

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

There's a lot going on: Fleming

There's a lot going on: Fleming

He experienced anxious moments in the lead-up to the tournament as the courts decided on whether to suspend the franchise, he said, but stressed that the… More »

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif said Tuesday he turned down the job of national chief selector because he could not work with ex-players tainted… More »

We are not over-confident: Bailey

We are not over-confident: Bailey

Indian Premier League — George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab will face Chennai Super Kings on Friday. More »

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

MoU between BCCI & its units to avoid double taxation delayed after a few decline to share details. More »

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling More »

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

New Zealand selectors included two new caps in a 15-man Test squad named Tuesday to tour the West Indies, with injury-hit spinner Dan Vettori's future… More »

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The Preview — Defending champions Mumbai Indians take on Kolkata Knight Riders More »

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

He was aggrieved by the allegations against him during the hearing. More »

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Michael Klinger has revealed he felt compelled to leave South Australia after being told he would be only a fringe part of the Redbacks' plans for next season, and disputed the suggestion that he left… More »

India: cricket's Brazil

India: cricket's Brazil

They are tough to beat with a big talent base exposed to good facilities. (CYCSPL) More »

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Franchises are doing their bit to refurbish the image of the tainted league. More »

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

The revival of Indo-Pak Test ties could take place in UAE. More »

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

'This time around we will hope to go few more steps ahead and actually get that trophy' More »

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Apart from the foreign players a lot of behind-the-scene activity has taken place in selecting the Indian domestic players. More »

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Leading Spanish club Atletico Madrid and former cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly are among the owners of eight franchises of a new Indian… More »

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

Kiwi all-rounder wants to utilise the India leg to explore the country’s tourist attractions. More »

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Says his mother made him change his mind. More »