Monday, April 20, 2009

Kings XI, KKR look to get IPL campaign on track

Thoroughly outplayed in their opening matches, Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab will lock horns on Tuesday hoping to haul their Indian Premier League campaign back on track.

Ravaged by injuries that have denied them the services of star players like Shaun Marsh, Brett Lee and S Sreesanth, the Yuvraj Singh-led Kings XI were handed a 10-wicket drubbing by Delhi Daredevils in their rain-truncated opening match on Sunday.

On the same night, Shah Rukh Khan's Kolkata Knight Riders were beaten by eight wickets by last year's bottom-placed Hyderabad Deccan Chargers.

"I want this nightmare to end," said Shah Rukh after the thrashing.

Kolkata, it seemed, were yet to recover from the pre-tournament furore over captaincy, at the end of which Sourav Ganguly was replaced by New Zealand's Brendon McCullum at the helm.

McCullum couldn't have asked for a worse start to his stint but remained optimistic about the team bouncing back in the coming matches.

"It is a long tournament and we will bounce back," he insisted.

Kings XI, on the other hand, are trying to cope with the injury blows that have left them severely depleted.

Last season's highest scorer Marsh, along with tearaway pacer Lee, were out of contention even before the tournament and adding to their woes is the non-availability of all-rounder James Hopes, who is on national duty.

Sreesanth too has been left with the job of promoting the team from the sidelines as a back injury keeps him out of on-field action.

Against a balanced Delhi, Kings XI's batting struggled to hold up and bowling was such that Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir took just a little over four overs to get past a 54-run target that was set for six overs in the rain-shortened game.

The Mohali-based team's batting relies heavily on skipper Yuvraj and Sri Lankan Kumar Sangakkara, both of whom didn't contribute much in the lost match.

Yuvraj, however, remained hopeful of a turnaround.

"We are happy with the start, off course we can take some positive out of it and we have enough games coming up, so looking forward to that," he said.

[the article was originally published at]

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