The Kolkata Knight Riders showed just why they will be the team to beat in IPL 2015 with an assured-as-they-come victory over the Mumbai Indians in the first match of the T20 tournament.
Running through the MI top order, barring Rohit Sharma, KKR then made a chase of 169 look easier than a lazy walk on a Sunday morning, proving yet again, at the Eden Gardens, they are near unbeatable.
Now, it will be the turn of the Royal Challengers Bangalore to solve that KKR-Eden Gardens puzzle, and in the likes of Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle and AB De Villiers, they certainly have the ammunition to stop the KKR juggernaut in their tracks.
"We have got a much more balanced team, probably the most balanced that we have had," said RCB captain Kohli. "The Indian batting was something that we were lacking in the past few editions. But now, with four or five [Indian] youngsters coming into the middle order, it has really strengthened our batting.
"We bat deep now. The combination is right but at the same time we have to play some good cricket. Hopefully this one is the season for us."
That same story does the rounds pretty much at the start of every season for RCB, but they somehow manage to come unstuck at the end of the league phase more often than not. To start well is always the best way to get that IPL campaign going, and what better way to boost your confidence and feel that you are one of the contenders for the title this year than to beat the defending champions.
KKR, of course, will be aware, being the champions, every team will put in that extra bit of effort to try and beat them. They didn't cope with that sort of pressure that well the first time they defended their title, but going by their performance against Mumbai Indians in their IPL 2015 opener, this season could very well be different.
Morne Morkel was the star man for KKR in that match against MI, bowling four quite hostile overs on an Eden Gardens wicket which surprisingly had plenty of pace and bounce. If the likes of Umesh Yadav and Sunil Narine come into their own as well, KKR will have a quite strong bowling lineup to go with their tremendous batting unit.
It remains to be seen if this pitch will have the same pace and bounce like the one on Wednesday, but if it does, RCB will probably miss the services of Mitchell Starc and Adam Milne – even if those two are pitch-it-up bowlers. But, in Sean Abbott they have a really good option, and the Australian will look to be as effective as Morkel was three days ago.
The RCB batting hardly needs any mention – not when you have Gayle, De Villiers and Kohli in the same lineup, but the additions of the experienced Dinesh Karthik and S Badrinath will be a huge boost to the side. Badrinath, in particular, is a highly underrated player, and even if he is not your typical slam-bang T20 batsman, he lends so much comfort and assurance to the batting order, that, like Kohli said, it gives the marauders the license to go into tonk town.
KKR are at their best when chasing down totals, and the key for the RCB on Saturday, against a partisan crowd, will be to win the toss and ask the home team to wield the willow first, just to put them out of their comfort zone.
Where to Watch Live
Kolkata Knight Riders vs Royal Challengers Bangalore is set to begin at 8 pm IST (3.30 pm BST, 10.30 am ET). Live TV coverage in India will be on Sony Six, Sony Max, Sony Aath and Sony Kix, while viewers can also catch the match online via live streaming on Starsports.com and Hotstar.
Audience in the US can catch this IPL 8 game live on ESPN, while the option to live stream the action online is on ESPN Cricket. OSN will show the match to the viewers in the Middle East, while KKR vs RCB can also be live streamed on OSN Play.
Viewers wanting to watch the match in the UK and Europe can tune into Sky Sports 3, while the live streaming choice is on Watch Sky Sports and Sky Go. Audience across the world can live stream KKR vs RCB on Cricketgateway.