Knight Riders batsmen will need to complement the efforts of their bowling unit

The much anticipated Indian leg of IPL-VII will begin at the JSCA International Stadium here on Friday. And the onus of starting the most important phase will fall on two-time champion Chennai Super Kings and the 2012 winner Kolkata Knight Riders. 

For all the teams it is like home-coming. Having played in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, the teams will enjoy a sense of homecoming; the combatants will relish the frenzied crowds and the familiar conditions.

The surprise leader after five rounds, Kings XI Punjab, and the second placed Super Kings, and the other sides will look to consolidate the early gains, while the others like Mumbai Indians, which went winless in West Asia, will hope to turn things around. 

For CSK, this venue is a familiar one, having made itself at home during the Champions League last year.

“We had a great experience here with the Champions League. We didn’t lose a game. So, we are pretty familiar with the surroundings. Obviously, the city has very strong connection with our skipper, and we really enjoyed ourselves here last time.

“We are happy to be back, and hopefully, our form at this ground will continue,” said CSK coach Stephen Fleming.

Defending champion Mumbai Indians will be joined by heavyweights like Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad, who have had only middling success in the season so far, in seeing the return to home conditions as a chance to redraw strategy to get back to winning ways.

CSK strength lies in the fact that most of its Indian players are proven performers. The core Indian component of the side has performed in all the editions of the IPL, with bat and with ball.

Adding to the strength is the inclusion of some outstanding foreign talent to bolster the chances. Like in the earlier editions, CSK will be an overwhelming favourite in this edition as well.

Ahead of the match against Kolkata, the five-time finalist will relish what looks like a pitch full of runs.

“The pitch looks good here and we are pretty happy about it. If we can play well and keep that type of momentum and consistency we will probably do very well,” Fleming said.

KKR has a strong attack, especially in the spin department where Sunil Narine and Piyush Chawla have done well so far. The team’s problem is that the batting has been inconsistent.

Captain Gautam Gambhir’s return of form will cheer the side. He is the best batsman in the side, and he has to provide the team with good starts.

That will determine the team’s chances further in this tournament.