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Knight Riders win toss and will bat first

Kolkata Knight Riders captain Brendon McCullum won the toss and elected to bat first in the fourth match of the second edition of the Indian Premier League against Deccan Chargers at Newlands in Cape Town on Sunday.

Kolkata Knight Riders do not have Sourav Ganguly at the helm, but, then, after their flying start and flat finish in the inaugural edition, a 'change' is what the doctor would have ordered, and McCullum leading the Knights will mark an essential shift in the team's approach to the competition.

Interestingly, KKR meet another under-achiever from last season. Hyderabad too have worked on the top floor to remedy their ills with the more 'docile' VVS Laxman making way for 'aggressive' Gilchrist at the helm.

The Knights, making more headlines than any other IPL team in the run-in to the tournament, more often for the wrong reasons, will be relieved to put the debate on the captaincy issue behind them and get into the real action in the middle.

McCullum himself could well provide the change in flavour by giving the start that he so brilliantly did last season with a blistering century against the Royal Challengers on the inaugural day.

The Kiwi is in great touch with the bat as the visiting Indians discovered during the tour that ended earlier this month, and also made a few smart moves behind the stumps.

Ganguly, in the unaccustomed position of playing second fiddle in a KKR match, will want to free himself of negative thoughts for some lusty hitting which he is still capable of producing. There is Aussie Brad Hodge and the destructive potential of Chris Gayle.

Ishant Sharma on the bouncy South African wickets is going to be a daunting prospect and his will be a key role in keeping opposition scores in check in a game 'unfairly' loaded in favour of batsmen.

It will, however, be intriguing to find out whether the carom-ball bowling Ajantha Mendis can weave his magic on wickets that lack the 'bite' of the sub-continent.

If he gets going, he may well turn out to be the unsolved mystery for many opposing batsmen, particularly for those that come in at lower-order.

For new recruit, Bangladeshi fast bowler Mashrafe Mortaza, it is a wonderful opportunity to make an impression. He has the werewhithal, and the conditions will certainly lend themselves nicely to his trade.

KKR present a formidable foe for any opposition. But, then, they had a decent team last season as well and, despite the flying start, could manage only a sixth-place finish.

Team Hyderabad ended up at the bottom of the table last season with just two wins from 14 matches. They can only go in one direction up - and - thus pose a different kind of danger to opponents from their 'nothing to lose' mentality.

Ironically, they have the likes of Gilchrist, Herschelle Gibbs and Rohit Sharma - batsmen who you would pick first in this format of the game. Laxman himself has so much talent that he is never ruled out from making a telling impact.

Despite a decent new-ball attack in RP Singh and Chaminda Vaas, the bowling looks the weak link for Hyderabad and they will, of course, miss the all-round abilities of Andrew Symonds.

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