IPL 2011 Preview: Kochi Tuskers vs Royal Challengers

Kochi Tuskers Kerala will be aiming for a dream debut when they take on Royal Challengers Bangalore in their opening match of the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League.

If the debutants under the stewardship of Mahela Jayawardene can upset the Daniel Vettori-led RCB at home, the importance and fame of the team among the locals will skyrocket. Also it will be a shot in the arm for the owners as the franchise was mired in various controversies in the lead up to the event. On paper, RCB top-order that boasts of names like AB de Villiers, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Virat Kohli and the very talented Saurabh Tiwary can murder any opposition on a given day.

When it comes to batting, Kochi may face a few problems as they don't have a good Indian batsman in their line-up. Apart from Parthiv Patel who is an effective T20 player, there aren't any big Indian names. VVS Laxman is not likely to make much of a difference in this format. A lot will depend on how many times captain Jayawardene and New Zealand opener Brendon McCullum fire. McCullum who will forever be remembered for his unbeaten 73-ball-158 during the first edition hasn't really fired after that knock.

Sri Lankan Thisara Perera has been one of the better buys by Kochi as his all-round abilities are in sync with the demands of Twenty20 cricket. It was his little cameo in the final overs that helped Lanka post a difficult total against India in the World Cup final. When it comes to bowling, the two teams are on even keel. If RCB have a top quality seamer in Zaheer Khan and the best left-arm spinner in the world in skipper Vettori, Kochi will have the wily old Muttiah Muralitharan trying to pull a trick or two out of his bag.

Royal Challengers Bangalore : Daniel Vettori (capt), TM Dilshan, AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli, Saurabh Tiwary, Mohammed Kaif, CM Gautham (wk), Zaheer Khan, Abhimanyu Mithun, Dirk Nannes, Ryan Ninnan/Abrar Kazi

Kochi Tuskers Kerala: Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Brendon McCullum, Parthiv Patel (wk), VVS Laxman, Owais Shah/Brad Hodge, Ravindra Jadeja, Thisara Perera, Rudra Pratap Singh, Ramesh Powar, R Vinay Kumar, Muttiah Muralitharan.

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