Kolkata Knight Riders v Delhi Daredevils | Sunday 10 April | Eden Gardens | 16:30
It’s that time of the year where our attention turns to batsmen friendly decks that have been prepped to produce scores in excess of 180, head turning cheerleaders, absurd team uniforms, and the punditry or should I rather say, comedy stylings, of Danny Morrison.
Yes, you guessed it, it’s IPL time. IPL franchise owners around India have all been getting their cheque books out in a bid to secure the services of the world’s best cricketers for the next month and a half, and when you look at the players that will be turning out for the eight sides participating in the tournament, you have to say that these wealthy owners have achieved their objectives.
Sunday’s fixture between the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Delhi Dare Devils will possibly see world class talent such as Andre Russel, Jason Holder, Sunil Narine, Morne Morkel, Quinton de Kock, Imran Tahir, and Carlos Brathwaite go head to head in front of a capacity Eden Gardens Crowd.
This game is likely to be an absolute spectacle with these giants of the game squaring off. Anyway, that’s enough waxing lyrical for one preview, let’s get into the nitty gritty.
To Win Match
Knight Riders 11/20 | Draw 35/1 | Delhi Daredevils 29/20
Kolkata Knight Riders
Gautam Gambhir’s men come into this tournament priced up at 7/1 to lift the IPL trophy but I think they are a rather interesting prospect despite being out of favour with the bookmakers. They may not have a squad that can match the likes of the Mumbai Indians or Royal Challengers Bangalore but they definitely have some world beaters amongst their ranks.
The key men for the Knight Riders will be West Indians Andre Russel, Jason Holder, and Sunil Narine. Russel is coming off the back of a fantastic start to the 2016 season having put in some immense performances in the Big Bash and then once again impressing in the shortest format of the game, this time for his national side at the last month's world T20.
While Russel will provide the fireworks with bat and ball Narine focus will be solely focussed on keeping the opposition batsmen's scoring rates down. The off-spinner has a fantastic pedigree in this tournament but it will be interesting to see if his adjusted bowling style - he got nailed for a suspect bowling action by the ICC last year and has been forced to change his delivery style - will bear as much fruit as his previous action.
There are a few other players who will have to fire for the Knight Riders if they are to take this tournament by storm. The likes of New Zealander Colin Munro, South African quick Morne Morkel, and Indian veteran spinners Robin Uthappa will all need to be at their best if the Knight Riders are to get their 2016 campaign off on the right foot.
The Daredevils come into Sunday's fixture with the underdogs tags firmly affixed to their names but I honestly don't think they are as bad as the bookmakers have made out. They have one of the most in-form batsmen in world cricket among their ranks as well as some handy bowlers.
Quinton de Kock is likely to be the key man in the Daredevils batting line-up. The belligerent left-hander is coming off the back of a fantastic showing for South Africa at last month's World T20. He's in the form of his life and is capable of taking a game away from opposition sides in the blink of an eye.
De Kock is joined in the squad by fellow South Africans JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, and Chris Morris. The aforementioned trio have all enjoyed success in Sub-Continent conditions, and will be rearing to go having come off the back of disappointing group-stage exit at the World T20.
Other players of note in the Daredevils side are veteran Indian seamer Zahir Khan, Aussie duo Travis Head and Nathan Coulter-Nile, and the star of the World T20 final Carlos Braithwaite.
Verdict: Top Dehli Daredevils Batsman - Quinton de Kock
The hard-hitting opener is enjoying his most fruitful year with the willow and offers an excellent return to top score at 3/1.
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