An almost new-look Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) team, under the command of Gautam Gambhir, will set IPL-IV rolling on April 8.
Picked up by the franchise for $2.4 million, the highest paid to any cricket, Gambhir has a lot at stake to prove himself as an able leader and player.
Having captained Delhi Daredevils in the previous edition, he is certainly not short on experience to handle the job.
The team has one of the finest all-rounders in contemporary cricket, Jacques Kallis of South Africa, Shakib Al Hasan of Bangladesh, India's Yusuf Pathan and Eoin Morgan of England.
KKR will not have the services of two Aussies, Brad Haddin and Brett Lee, and Shakib, all busy with the one-day series beginning on Saturday. This leaves Kallis, Morgan, James Pattinson (Australia) and Ryan ten Doeschate (The Netherlands) as automatic choices for the opening match.
An early exposure to Pattinson, supposed to be very sharp with the new ball, and ten Doeschate, who impressed during the ICC World Cup, would augur well for the team.
KKR's batting will rely on Kallis, Pathan, Manoj Tiwary and Laxmi Ratan Shukla, apart from Gambhir. The bowling too is well balanced. The team will look forward to veteran L. Balaji, Pradeep Sangwan and the young Jaidev Unadkat to deliver in the company of Kallis, Morgan and Pattinson.
Pathan and Iqbal Abdulla are the two spinners in the side. Sarabjit Ladda can add variety to the attack with his leg-spin.
KKR, which finished sixth in the first and third seasons and last in the second, can set a modest target of bettering the previous record. That the team, coached by Aussie Dav Whatmore, will play without any pressure of expectation is not good news for the established sides in the competition.