Hyderabad: Kolkata Knight Riders will take on Auckland Aces in the second match of the Champions League Twenty20 here on Monday.
And though the unavailability of skipper Gautam Gambhir would have come as a big jolt to KKR, they still seem a superior side than their New Zealand counterparts as far as overall team composition and knowledge of local conditions is concerned.
Except Gambhir, the Kolkata outfit will also miss the services of England international Eoin Morgan, who will be out of action after suffering an injury during the Test series against India.
But, despite the absence of two key batsmen, KKR will get the experience of Jacques Kallis, who is promoted as skipper of the side in place of the injured Gambhir. And the likes of Manoj Tiwary, Ryan ten Doeschate and Yusuf Pathan will give strength to the team's middle order.
KKR, who finished fourth in this year's IPL, will also bank on Brett Lee, who changed his loyalties to the Kolkata-based franchisee after being involved in the proceedings with Kings XI Punjab for IPL's first three seasons. Laxmipathy Balaji will share the new ball with Lee, while Rajat Bhatia can come into play in the middle overs with his military medium pace.
Iqbal Abdulla, the highest wicket-taker for the side in IPL-4, can also trouble the opposition batsmen with his slow left-arm spin.
Kallis and Pathan will also don the all-rounder roles for their sides.
On the other hand, the Auckland Aces too have an international flavour in their side, with captain Gareth Hopkins, Martin Guptill, Chris Martin, Daryl Tuffey and Kyle Mills.
The key for the Aces will be to adjust with the spin-friendly tracks of India as soon as they can.
Kolkata Knight Riders (India): Jacques Kallis, Rajat Bhatia, Laxmipathy Balaji, Manoj Tiwary, Ryan ten Doeschate, Yusuf Pathan, Iqbal Abdulla, Shakib Al Hasan, Brett Lee, Manvinder Bisla, Brad Haddin, Shami Ahmed, Jaidev Unadkat, Gautam Gambhir
Auckland Aces (New Zealand): Andre Adams, James Adams, Michael Bates, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Roneel Hira, Gareth Hopkins, Anaru Kitchen, Bruce Martin, Chris Martin, Kyle Mills, Colin Munro, Daryl Tuffey, Rob Quiney, Lou Vincent