Bowling consultant of Kolkata Knight Riders, Wasim Akram is hoping new recruit Brendon McCullum gives Shah Rukh Khan’s team an explosive start when they clash with Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Eden Gardens today. “Personally, I will like Brendon McCullum to fire for KKR. I am sure the pugnacious Kiwi will deliver better under Gautam Gambhir. There will be no personality clashes and both Gambhir and McCullum are professional enough to know what’s best for Kolkata,” Akram wrote in his column on ESPNCricinfo.
The Knights have high hopes from their other new recruit — West Indies’ Sunil Narine. The Netherlands all-rounder Ryan ten Doeschate, with his big hitting capabilities and utility medium pace, is also in the reckoning for a place in the final combination.
Akram added: “KKR’s strength lies in its balance. They have a good skipper and the right combination of youth and experience. Manoj Tiwary, Yusuf Pathan and Iqbal Abdulla are extremely capable. Pros like Jacques Kallis, Doeschate, McCullum and Eoin Morgan provide the depth and variety.”
However, coach Trevor Bayliss emphasised the importance of starting on a good note. “It’s important to get a good start so we go into the rest of the tournament with confidence. Any team can win on any day in this format,” he told reporters. Playing their lung-opener on home turf — Eden Gardens — the Cricket Association of Bengal hope to see a crwod of around 50,000.
Meanwhile, Delhi Daredevils are without several of their front-line batsmen. Mahela Jayawardene, David Warner and Kevin Pietersen are busy serving their national teams.
* To return to form with a cracking knock.
* Umesh Yadav continues his good work from Australia tour.
* Varun Aaron consistently hits 150kmph.
* Venugopal Rao continues to steady the innings.
* Irfan Pathan contributes in a big way with the bat and ball.
* Hopes Brendon McCullum provides a fiery start.
* Yusuf Pathan gets back to his big-hitting ways.
* Shakib Al Hasan keeps impressing the way he did in the recent Asia Cup.
* L Balaji provides early breakthroughs.
* Sehwag falls early.