Table-toppers Kolkata wary of giant killers Kochi

Mahela

After playing a crucial role in Kolkata Knight Riders' comprehensive nine-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals on Sunday, Laksmipathy Balaji claimed that the franchise had finally, and completely, moved on from its horrific past. In fact, it isn't just Balaji who believes that KKR's new look side has what it takes to win the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League, as every other team mate of his is busy parroting the same line. And early signs — three wins in a row and a top of the table spot — indicate that they are determined to walk the talk.

But the fact is that Kolkata lost the only real test that they faced so far — the opening game against defending champions, the MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings. And the hat-trick of wins have come against Deccan Chargers and twice over Rajasthan, matches where the middle-order wasn't exposed to tough situations and bowlers like Balaji weren't tested with those big-bladed lusty hits. Tougher challenges lie ahead and Gautam Gambhir & Co won't mind being stretched by the other in form team of the IPL, a side that slayed the big names to win their last two matches, the Kochi Tuskers Kerala at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday.

Tuskers the team to beat

Mahela Jayawardene's Tuskers may have gotten off to a slow start in their first season of the IPL, but with back-to-back wins over Sachin Tendulkar's Mumbai Indians and Dhoni's Chennai in the last two games has seen them become the team to beat in the early rounds. Jayawardene's captaincy has been outstanding, Brendon McCullum is providing just the required impetus upfront and is fresh from his match winning performance against Chennai, while RP Singh is slowly but surely getting his rhythm that made a national team sensation back.

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