Kolkata, Apr 4: Delhi boys Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir will leave their friendship behind as they walk out to the field to be up against each other in the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Eden Gardens on Thursday. The game will also see brothers Irfan Pathan and Yusuf Pathan against each other.
Sehwag and Gambhir, one of India's most successful opening pairs, are now leading two different teams in IPL. Sehwag is in charge of Delhi Daredevils (DD) and Gambhir is at the helm of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR).
Both these players played together for Delhi in the first three editions. But Gambhir was bought for a record price of $2.4 million in the fourth year by Shahrukh Khan owned KKR.
Delhi and Kolkata have failed in the previous editions to make the finals. This year they will be hoping to turn it around. They have explosive players who can win matches single-handedly.
While Kolkata have Yusuf and Brendon McCullum for big hits, Delhi possess Sehwag. For the first game, however, Delhi will be without Mahela Jayawardene, David Warner and Kevin Pietersen who are away on international duty. New Zealand's Ross Taylor, who is out injured, is also missing from Delhi squad.
West Indian offspinner Sunil Narine, who was bought by KKR for $ 700,000 in this year's auction, will be closely watched. Trinidad and Tobago's Narine impressed in the Champions League. He took 10 wickets at 4.37 runs per over. Narine has troubled some of the best batsmen and it will interesting to see how Sehwag and his team-mates handle him.
McCullum and Jacques Kallis are likely to open for KKR. Gambhir might come in at number three. The middle order will feature Yusuf, Manoj Tiwary. Eoin Morgan or Ryan ten Doeschate will be included. Bangladesh's all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan is also a part of the KKR squad.
Australia's veteran paceman Brett Lee will lead KKR's attack with Lakshmipathy Balaji.
For Delhi, Ajit Agarkar, Irfan will do bowling duties along with South African spinner Roelf van der Merwe. Andhra's Venugopal Rao, Aaron Finch of Australia will be the batsmen along with Sehwag.
Kolkata did well last year to finish fourth and qualify for the Champions League. They have the team to take a shot at the title this year. A winning start will be essential for them.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (captain), Manoj Tiwary, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Yusuf Pathan, Rajat Bhatia, Chirag Jani, Debabrata Das, Iqbal Abdulla, Iresh Saxena, Jaidev Unadkat, Laxmipathy Balaji, Manvinder Bisla, Pradeep Sangwan, Sanju Samson, Sarabjit Singh Ladda, Mohd Shami Ahmed, Brad Haddin (wk), Jacques Kallis, Brendon McCullum, Eoin Morgan, Ryan ten Doeschate, Shakib Al Hasan, Sunil Narine, Marchant de Lange.
Delhi Daredevils: Virender Sehwag (captain), Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan, Umesh Yadav, Puneet Bisht, Robin Bist, Naman Ojha (wk), Shahbaz Nadeem, Venugopal Rao, Vikas Mishra, Yogesh Nagar, Zafir Patel, Sunny Gupta, Tejashwi Yadav, Aavishkar Salvi, Kuldeep Raval, Manpreet Juneja, Pawan Negi, Prashant Naik, Aaron Finch, Andre Russell, Doug Bracewell, Glenn Maxwell, Gulam Bodi, Morne Morkel, Roelf van der Merwe.
Match starts at 8 pm IST