Kolkata:Rawalpindi Express Shoaib Akhtar could be seen in action for the first time, as a resurgent Kolkata Knight Riders take on Delhi Daredevils in an Indian Premier League match on Tuesday.
Having collected eight points from as many matches, both teams are in contention for semi-final berths, and the Eden Gardens tie could be crucial in determining the course of events.
With their superior net run-rate (0.545), the Knight Riders are now placed fourth, a rung above the Delhi side, who have a net run rate of 0.500.
After four losses, the Knight Riders have returned to their winnings ways in the last two matches, and skipper Sourav Ganguly's re-discovery of form both with the willow and the cherry have come as an additional moral-booster for the Shah Rukh Khan-owned side.
Senior pro Ganguly had totalled only 96 from half a dozen games till the match opposite Bangalore Royal Challengers on May 8, which had prompted questions on his form and fitness.
But the comeback man of Indian cricket gave a befitting reply to his critics with two consecutive man-of-the-match performances.
With dream bowling figures of 3-0-7-1, Ganguly put paid to the hopes of Hyderabad overhauling the Knight Riders' total before coming up with a breath-taking all-round show in yesterday's outing against Deccan Chargers (91 off 57 balls and 2/25).
However, all eyes are now focussed on the likely inclusion of Shoaib, who is yet to make his IPL debut since arriving in India last week and whose presence could add more ammunition to the Knight Riders bowling arsenal.
In the batting department, the hosts would be again relying on hard-hitting David Hussey, who has been their most successful willower in the tournament, with Wriddhiman Saha and Laxmi Ratan Shukla also expected to pick up some runs in the slog overs.
Among the pacers, Ashok Dinda (3/33 against Deccan Chargers) has done well, but Ishant Sharma and Umar Gul have come in for punishment from the batsmen in recent games, while spinner Murali Kartik has also been expensive.
Virender Sehwag has so far led the Delhi team from the front, piling up 287 runs at an enviable strike rate of 177.16, while opener Gautam Gambhir (336 at strike rate 139.41) and Shikhar Dhawan (209) have been the other success stories.
On the flip side, Shoaib Malik and South African A B de Villiers and Dinesh Kaarthick have not been among runs.
Aussie veteran Glenn McGrath, who had problems finding a team during the first auction, has been impressive with the ball for the visitors, both in terms of wickets and the economy rate.
Pakistan's Mohammad Asif and Indian youngster Y Mahesh have also done reasonably well, though Asif has come in for stick.
Kolkata Kinght Riders: Sourav Ganguly (captain), Aakash Chopra, Ajit Agarkar, Ashok Dinda, Cheteshwar Pujara, David Hussey, Debabrata Das, Iqbal Abdulla, Ishant Sharma, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Mohammad Hafeez, Murali Kartik, Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), Rohan Banerjee, Salman Butt, Saurasish Lahiri, Siddarth Kaul, Shoaib Akhtar, Tatenda Taibu (wicketkeeper), Umar Gul and Yashpal Singh
Delhi Daredevils: Virender Sehwag (captain), Rajat Bhatia, A.B. de Villiers, Shikhar Dhawan, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Pradeep Sangwan, Gautam Gambhir, Brett Geeves, Dinesh Karthik (wicket-keeper), Glenn McGrath, Farveez Maharoof, Shoaib Malik, Tejashwi Yadav, Yo Mahesh, Mithun Manhas, Amit Mishra, Mohammad Asif, Yogesh Nagar, Manoj Tiwary, Mayank Tehlan.