This column has to begin by wishing Sachin Tendulkar a happy 40th birthday and with the prayer that like his 100 international centuries, he goes on to get a century in life too.
The Eden Gardens crowd will give him a fantastic reception no doubt about that, and if he can keep his emotions in check, he can feed off that affection and get the kind of big score that can take the game away from the defending champions.
He batted well in the previous game without looking dominating but with that knock, he gave his team a good start. That they were not able to win the game was simply due to the fact that Virender Sehwag chose that game to get back to form, and the Delhi skipper Mahela Jayawardene chipped in with a classy half century to give Delhi their first win.
Kolkata too are floundering a bit having lost their previous games and know that they have to pick themselves up quickly to stay in the hunt to defend their title. Their batting is not quite clicking though the skipper Gambhir is batting well and so also Eoin Morgan, but there is not much support otherwise and that’s why they are struggling.
They tried sending Yusuf Pathan at the top of the order and it worked partially, for, unless Pathan gets 50 plus, he is not going to change the game. Kallis also has not quite hit his straps and the solidity that he gives, and the confidence that he generates in his partner is missing because of his short stays at the crease.
Mumbai too made some changes at the top with Ponting dropping himself down the order. It would be even better if Dinesh Karthik, who is batting so well, were to open the batting as he has done for India in the past, for that gives him more overs to bat and you want the in form batsmen to bat as many overs as possible .
Rohit Sharma is also hitting the ball well and with Pollard and Rayudu also waiting to slam the ball, the batting has got good depth.
How they tackle Sunil Narine is going to be the key and that’s why his Trinidadian teammate Pollard who has batted lots in the nets against Narine should be sent higher up the order to counter him.
The Eden pitch has been low and slow and the ball is not quite coming onto the bat, so it may not be the run feast that crowds are expecting, but then what is a T20 game if it does not do the unexpected?