By Debayan Mukherjee
Kolkata: The spotlight will be on Sourav Ganguly even as Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) look to seek home comfort against Delhi Capitals in their Indian Premier League (IPL) return fixture at the Eden Gardens here on Friday.
Former India captain and Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) President Ganguly is donning the hat of an advisor at Delhi Capitals, and is expected to sit in the away team’s dugout despite a conflict of interest complaint against him.
According to reports, Ganguly, who knows the Eden turf like the back of his hand, is likely to depose in person before the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) ombudsman regarding the matter as Justice (Retd) D.K. Jain might just want to hear him out before taking the final call.
Three Kolkata based fans — Bhaswati Santua, Ranjit Seal and Abhijeet Mukherjee — in a letter to the BCCI Ombudsman-cum-Ethics-Officer Jain alleged that Ganguly’s dual role is a case of conflict of interest, and they fear he might have it his way with the pitch curator ahead of the game.
Ganguly, however, in his written reply to the Ombudsman’s notice, has categorically denied the charge.
Coming to the tie, Delhi will fancy their chances against KKR after registering a confidence-boosting four-wicket victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore in their last outing.
Captain Shreyas Iyer led from the front with a matured 67 after ace South Africa pacer Kagiso Rabada returned figures of 4/21 to dent RCB’s charge.
Young Prithvi Shaw also looked in sublime touch when he hit five consecutive fours off Tim Southee, each of which was a shot to savour.
A chink in Delhi’s armour though has been Shikhar Dhawan’s woeful form and the World Cup-bound opener would like to get some runs as early as possible.
Coming to the home team, KKR were outplayed by Chennai Super Kings in their last game despite Andre Russell once again starring for them with a patient 44-ball 50. None of the other batsmen got going, and even with the ball looked flat against the Chennai batters.
Rabada and Co. will have their task cut out against Russell but KKR would like their other batsmen to get runs to reduce the pressure on the West Indies all-rounder.
On the bowling front, the spinners are yet to fire for the purple brigade who have traditionally relied on them.
It was a thrilling Super Over that decided the tie in their first meeting this season, with Delhi riding another Rabada special in that one over to victory.
Russell had smashed a whirlwind 28-ball 62 to help KKR post 185/8 but Shaw scored 99 to tie the game for Delhi before Rabada bowled perfect yorkers to defend 10 runs and seal the deal.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Dinesh Karthik (captain), Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Joe Denly, Lockie Ferguson, Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Harry Gurnley, Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Nitish Rana, Sandeep Warrier, K.C. Cariappa, Shubman Gill, Rinku Singh, Shrikant Mundhe, Nikhil Naik, Anrich Nortje, Prithvi Raj, Prasidh Krishna.
Delhi Capitals: Ishant Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Colin Ingram, Trent Boult, Axar Patel, Shreyas Iyer (c), Kagiso Rabada, Rahul Tewatia, Rishabh Pant (wk), Keemo Paul, Prithvi Shaw, Amit Mishra, Colin Munro, Jalaj Saxena, Harshal Patel, Hanuma Vihari, Bandaru Ayyappa, Ankush Bains, Avesh Khan, Nathu Singh, Sandeep Lamichhane, Manjot Kalra, Sherfane Rutherford