Robust KKR faces a new-look DD

Kolkata Knight Riders, under new coach Jacques Kallis and featuring back-again spinner Sunil Narine, will take on a Delhi Daredevils side which has undergone changes in its set-up, at Eden Gardens on Sunday.

Carlos Brathwaite (left) is unlikely to receive unreserved cheers from the Eden Gardens crowd when he plays against Kolkata Knight Riders.   -  K. R. Deepak

The situation has changed drastically for Carlos Brathwaite. Amid vociferous support from a packed Eden Gardens, the towering West Indian had hit English bowler Ben Stokes for four consecutive sixes to guide his team home in the World T20 final on last Sunday.

>READ: Carlos Brathwaite admits to finding post-World T20 spotlight challenging

>READ: Sunil Narine will have an outstanding IPL season with the ball, declares Gautam Gambhir

Exactly after a week, he will be encouraged to play at his favourite ground again in Delhi Daredevils (DD) colours but is likely to miss the backing of the local fans, known for their unflinching loyalty to Kolkata Knight Riders, when the two teams meet in their first Indian Premier League (IPL) encounter here.

It will be a challenge not only for Braithwaite but also for DD, which has roped in mentor Rahul Dravid and coach Paddy Upton and anointed old warhorse Zaheer Khan as captain for the ninth season.

Youngsters invested in

DD, which has failed to make an impact so far, has invested in youngsters, including under-19 World Cuppers Rishabh Pant, Mahipal Lomror and Khaleel Ahmed, apart from some talented players, such as Sanju Samson, Karun Nair, Pawan Negi, Shreyas Iyer.

Besides, the team has retained utility T20 players such as JP Duminy, Quinton de Kock, Imran Tahir, Amit Mishra and Shahbaz Nadeem. The presence of Nathan Coulter-Nile and Chris Morris along with comeback man Mohammad Shami in the pace department should help the side.

Fortunately, Jacques Kallis, who served the side as batting coach, succeeding Trevor Bayliss as head coach has not brought any uncertainty to the KKR camp.

Led by its ever-aggressive captain Gautam Gambhir, two-time champion KKR is keen to erase its disappointing performance in away matches last year and regain the trophy.

KKR strong on paper

The biggest relief for KKR is the availability of offspinner Sunil Narine, who was cleared to play the IPL following certain changes in his action. Narine is expected to join the squad for the second match.

KKR looks balanced on paper. Gambhir, Robbin Uthappa, Colin Munro, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Suryakumar Yadav and Chris Lynn bolster the batting while allrounders like Jason Holder, Shakib Al Hasan, Andre Russel and Manan Sharma give Gambhir a lot of options.

John Hastings, Morne Morkel, Umesh Yadav and Jaydev Unadkat shoulder the responsibility of pace bowling while Brad Hogg, Narine, Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav offer variety in the spin department.

KKR, scheduled to play two home matches before travelling till next month due to West Bengal elections, will be keen to gain some initial momentum by starting with wins.

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