IPL: Bangalore Challengers hold edge over Kolkata Riders

Published: Thursday, April 17, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
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NBA ishtyle...Cheer girls and belly dancers, to regale and entertain the crowd during IPL T20 ties, practice ahead of inaugural matchBangalore: The million-dollar baby Indian Professional League (IPL), a Twenty20 league that has taken the world of cricket by storm, will kick-off at the Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Friday with Mallya-owned Bangalore Royal Challengers taking on the SRK's Kolkata Knight Riders.

The two teams, led by former Indian captains Saurav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, respectiely, may not be flamboyant as Hyderabad Chargers and Kings XI Punjab but are 'classy' as the two rivals put it.

Bangalore Royal Challengers with a strong bowling attack and solid batting line-up seem to hold edge over their rivals from Eastern India.

Challengers face injury scares as Kumble and Zaheer hasn't cleared fitness test while Riders will miss the services of banned Akhtar.

Mallya-owned and Dravid led B'lore side might have failed to 'bag' young flamboyant players like M S Dhoni or its own Robin Uthappa in the much hyped auction but have loads of seasoned campaigners capable to handle to the pressure and demands of ultra-abrdiged version of the sport.

Challengers boost of a fine blend of youth and experience in the batting department with Jacques Kallis, the most dependable all rounder, hard hitting wicket-keeper batsmen Mark Boucher, workmanlike Shivnarine Chanderpaul, attacking Misbah-ul-Haq and labourous Dravid and Jaffer all batsmen in the classic mould bring with them tonnes of experience. And youngsters like Ross Taylor, India U-19 skipper Virat Kohli coupled with young Karnataka Ranji batsmen make the line-up look mouthwatering.

The bowling attack of Challangers looks formidable with best of pace, swing and spin bowlers: Steyn, Zaheer, Kallis and Praveen make the fast bowling dept while Aussie leggie Cameron White will spearhead spin department if Kumble fails to clear fitness test. White will have a able company in the shape of left-arm spinner Sunil Joshi and rookie Appanna.

Camaron White, who led Vics to Pura Cup finals (Sheffield Shield), is a veteran of sorts in the T20 format and holds the highest score of 141* in the English league. White is equally good with both the cherry and willow and a key figure in the Challengers' scheme of things.

Kolkata too may not have the 'slam bangers' in the T20 mould, but has a solid batting line-up in shape of Ricky Ponting, Chris Gayle, keeper-batsmen Brendon McCullum, David Hussey and skipper Ganguly. However the big worry for the Riders' is most of their batters including Ponting and Gayle are not in pink of form.

Riders' bowling department looks pretty OK despite the absence of maverick Shoaib Akhtar, a non-starter in the event following the five-year ban slapped by PCB on Pindi Express, with the likes of seamers Ishant, Agarkar, left-arm spinner Murali Karthik and locals Ranadeb Bose and S Lahiri.

Chinnaswamy Stadium gears up: The M Chinnaswamy Stadium has been given a facelift for the IPL opener. The stadium has been painted with Red and Yellow, the official colour of Royal Challengers and also that of the Kannada flag.

Though organisers were tight lipped over the sale of tickets, it is understood that the sale was brisk and most of the buyers were from Corporate sector.

With cultural programmes arranged one hour before the inauguration, there are many surprises in store for the spectators.

The match is slated to begin at 2030 hrs, the organisers said.

Draconian restrictions: IPL has scrapped most of its obnoxious restrictions on print media and electronic media but is adamant to its stance on websites. The standalone cricket websites will not be allowed to cover the event live nor allowed to use match pics from news agencies. This is nothing but trampling the freedom of expression.

The teams:

Bangalore Royal Challengers: Rahul Dravid (Capt), Jacques Kallis, Zaheer Khan, Wasim Jaffer, Praveenkumar Singh, Mark Boucher (WK), Dale Steyn, Nathan Bracken, Misbah-ul-Haq, Virat Kohli, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ross Taylor, Sunil Joshi, J Arun Kumar, Cameron White, Shreevats Goswami and Abdul Razzak. Coach: B K Venkatesh Prasad.

Kolkata Knight Riders: Saurav Ganguly (Capt), Ricky Ponting, Brendon McCullum (WK), Chris Gayle, David Hussey, Mohammaed Hafiz, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Wriddhiman Saha, Ajit Agarkar, Ashok Dinda, Murali Kartik, Ishant Sharma, Debabrata Das and Iqbal Abdullah. Coach: John Buchanan.


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