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Kolkata challenge for Mumbai

Abu Dhabi (PTI): Defending champions Mumbai Indians will take on 2012 winners Kolkata Knight Riders in an intriguing curtain raiser as the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) kicks off here at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium on Wednesday.

While Mumbai hold a distinct advantage over Kolkata (they have won 10 out of the 12 meetings between the two sides), it will be hard to predict the outcome of Wednesday’s game as KKR have opted to rejig their team at the auctions that were held in February.

While Mumbai got hold of the swashbuckling Kiwi all-rounder Corey Anderson apart from picking up the ever-reliable opener Michael Hussey, KKR opted to buy back Yusuf Pathan and Jacques Kallis.

They also bought R Vinay Kumar, who is coming off a superb domestic season for Karnataka.

Robin Uthappa, another new face in the side, will be expected to provide the fireworks at the top of the order.

Hussey and Rohit Sharma (the second leading run-getter in IPL history) will provide a solid base for hitters Kieron Pollard and Anderson, with Lasith Malinga spearheading the bowling attack for Mumbai.

Ambati Rayudu, another key component in their victory last year, will form the backbone in the middle-order.

For KKR skipper, Gautam Gambhir, this is the perfect stage to remind the selectors of his presence.

He didn’t have a great IPL last year and will need to inspire his team at the top of the order.

In spinner, Sunil Narine and all-rounders Yusuf, Kallis and Shakib al-Hasan, they do possess a dangerous ensemble of getting past any opponent on their day.

Individual battles between the likes of Malinga and Gambhir or Narine and international team-mate Pollard could well settle the outcome.

Agencies

The teams: Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (c), Lasith Malinga, Kieron Pollard, Harbhajan Singh, Ambati Rayudu, Michael Hussey, Zaheer Khan, Pragyan Ojha, Corey Anderson, Josh Hazlewood, CM Gautam, Aditya Tare, Apoorv Wankhade, Marchant de Lange, Krishmar Santokie, Ben Dunk, Pawan Suyal, Sushant Marathe, Jasprit Bumrah, Shreyas Gopal, Jalaj Saxena.

Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (c), Sunil Narine, Jacques Kallis, Robin Uthappa, Yusuf Pathan, Shakib Al Hasan, Umesh Yadav, Vinay Kumar, Morne Morkel, Piyush Chawla, Manish Pandey, Veer Pratap Singh, Chris Lynn, Andre Russell, SS Mandal, Pat Cummins, Debabrata Das, Suryakumar Yadav, Manvinder Bisla, Ryan ten Doeschate, Kuldeep Yadav.

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