Fans split on whether to support Ganguly-led Warriors or KKR
Bengal's cricket icon, Sourav Ganguly, would have liked to bring the Pune Warriors to challenge Kolkata Knight Riders in a better frame of mind and with a winning momentum behind it in the ongoing DLF IPL-V tournament.
Instead, he will walk into the Eden Gardens on Saturday searching for the winning formula that will first stop the team's four-match losing streak and then gain the much needed self confidence which only a victory can bring to the team.
The host, on the other hand, is sitting pretty in the league table with 13 points from six victories, three defeats and one no result from 10 games. The story of Warriors is different. It has eight points from 11 games.
For all the publicity the match has generated, the majority of the local populace wants some kind of victory for Ganguly over the Shahrukh Khan co-owned franchise.
In a worst case scenario, the packed stadium would be happy to see dada do well and KKR win the encounter.
KKR captain Gautam Gambhir is on a roll literally, with the bat and on the field as the skipper. His bowlers have dominated all most all the sides in the competition.
While the Knights have a settled side, the Warriors are still searching for the right combination. The team has five more games to go and another loss on Saturday will put it in real jeopardy as far as a place in the knockout is concerned.
Robin Uthappa is the Warriors' top batsman with 323 runs from 11 matches followed by Steven Smith (269 in 11 games) and Jessy Ryder (233 in nine matches).
On the bowling front, Ashoke Dinda, who missed a few matches owing to injury but played in the last game, should start the match against the Knights. He has nine wickets from six games.
Ashish Nehra, who went for runs in the last two games, has picked up eight wickets from 10 while leg-spinner Rahul Sharma and West Indian Marlon Samuels have eight each.
Kinghts are served exceptionally well by Gambhir who has 365 runs from nine matches to place him in the top five highest run getters in this season. He is supported by all-rounder Jacques Kallis (183), Manoj Tiwary (149) and M.S. Bisla (123).
New Zealander Brendon McCullum got among runs in the last game. Among the bowlers West Indian Sunil Narine is outstanding with 12 wickets so far. Rajat Bhatia, Kallis and L. Balaji have seven scalps each. An injured Balaji looks a non-starter.
The city has been receiving a spell or two of rain since Thursday. Rain is predicted on Saturday too and many well-wishers of Ganguly would actually want rain to take the centrestage.