Kolkata, Apr 17: India's new pace sensation Ishant Sharma will spearhead an attack sans Pakistan quickers Shoaib Akhtar and Umar Gul for the Kolkata Knight Riders' (KKR) in the openning IPL's Twenty-20 against Rahul Dravid-led Royal Challengers in Bangalore tomorrow.
KKR squad led by Sourav Ganguly along with Australian coach John Buchanon flew today for the venue and were expecting all rounder Chris Gayle to make in the first eleven if the West Indian captain could join by this evening after a 2-0 three ODI's home series win against Sri Lanka. Shoaib Akhtar was now facing a tribunal at home after Pakistan Cricket Board slapped a five-year ban on him. Umer Gul was unlucky to make it so also Salman Butt as Pakistan have engagement with Bangladesh in home. Sourav was banking on experienced Ajit Agarkar and spinner Murali Kartick besides Delhi's paceman Ishant Sharma and some part time bowlers.
Sourav and Buchanan had expressed happiness over KKR's first team meeting yesterday where primary squad for Friday's show at the M Chinnaswamy stadium was discussed with available strength.
Buchanan said he was not worried about the rival's weaknesses but rather concentrating on his squad's strength and was quite happy at Sourav's present form and communcation skill said his side had some excellent players and they were expected to do well.
Admitting that Akhtar and Gul's absence will be felt, Buchanan said he had also some good allrounders and not much to be concerned.
Besides, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Gayle, David Hussey and Mohammed Hafeez can contribute well in both willow and leather, he added.
A latest report from Mumbai quoting KKR's owner and Bollywood king Shah Rukh Khan as saying it was PCB to decide on Shoaib Akhtar's fate in the IPL matches.
In Kolkata, the local police have demanded Rs 25 to 30 lakh from the IPL organisers for posting security personnel at Eden Gardens and around the ground for seven matches to he held from April 20 onwards.
A report quoting Deputy Commissioner (headquarters) of Police Vineet Goyal as saying some 5500 personnel and another 1500 in plaincloth were to be deployed and since the IPL was commercial in nature the organisers must shell out to meet cost of deployment.
He said since the IPL had huge hype as many celebritites involved in the extravaganza, security aspect in the stadium and outside would also be stringent.