Kolkata:A cracker of a match is expected as two of the strongest teams in the Indian Premier League Kolkata Knight Riders and Deccan Chargers cross swords at the decked-up Eden Gardens on Sunday.
With their tails up after a thumping 140-run victory over Bangalore Royal Challengers in last night's tournament lung-opener, the Sourav Ganguly-led Kolkata outfit would seek their second consecutive win, while the Hyderabad-based side, led by stylist VVS Laxman, will look to kick-start their campaign on the right note before an expected packed house.
Eden Gardens, the home of cricket in this part of the world, has been spruced up with fresh coats of paint in the galleries and the Club House for the BCCI-backed multi-million dollar extravaganza.
Both teams have a galaxy of international stars capable of winning a match singlehandedly on their day. Hence, predicting the outcome could be a risky venture.
However, what would be a matter of concern to the two team managements is the absence of several high-priced foreign acquisitions.
Apart from missing banned Rawalpindi Express Shoaib Akhtar and two other Pakistanis pacer Umar Gul and left-hand batsman Salman Butt the Knight Riders would also have to do without hard-hitting West Indian captain Chris Gayle, who has been ruled out for a fortnight with a groin strain.
Gul and Butt are slated to join the side after the ODI series against Bangladesh.
Similarly, Deccan Chargers would be forced to take the field without dashing Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi, also doing duty for his national side.
South African batsman Herschelle Gibbs has also not come for the Hyderabad team.
The hosts, spurred on by their all-round show against Rahul Dravid's side in Bangalore, seem to be high on confidence.
The out-of-the-world knock of 158 from New Zealand wicketkeeper batsman Brendon McCullum has not only made him the highest individual scorer in a Twenty20 match, but has also turned him overnight into a hero for the city side, and a darling of the crowds.
While Ganguly would be hoping for yet another scorcher from the 27-year old from Dunedin, the disciplined bowling of his team must also have added to the satisfaction of the Prince of Kolkata.
The fiery pace of Ishant Sharma, the performance of debutante Ashok Dinda and veteran Ajit Agarkar, and the effort of Ganguly himself has made the Knight Riders bowling look high on quality in their first match.
The home fans would also hope for significant contributions from Aussie captain Ricky Ponting and Ganguly, both of whom failed to deliver with the bat last night.
Deccan Chargers' star-studded line-up includes retired Aussie wicketkeeper batsman Adam Gilchrist, the aggressive Andrew Symonds, New Zealand all-rounder Scott Styris, Sri Lankan batsman Chamara Silva and his two compatriots pacers Chaminda Vaas and Nuwan Zoysa.
Among the Indian recruits, the team includes swashbuckling youngster Rohit Sharma and pacer RP Singh, while the stylish Laxman would be expected to provided the much-needed solidity in the middle.