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Holders KKR face formidable Mumbai Indians in opener

Keen to put the Sunil Narine controversy behind them, Kolkata Knight Riders will begin their title defence against a formidable Mumbai Indians side in the IPL cricket opener at the Eden Gardens, here on Wednesday.

The West Indies mystery spinner, who was reported for suspect action in CLT20 and went on to miss the recently-concluded World Cup, was kept waiting before getting a clean chit by the BCCI on Sunday.

A team which has gone on to win two titles (2012 and 2014) since the acquisition of the Trinidad off-spinner in 2011 faces the biggest challenge this year as Narine’s effectiveness with a re-modelled action is yet to be seen.

With a slew of spinners in their armoury now including a ‘Narine-like’ KC Cariappa, a rookie from Karnataka who was bought for Rs. 2.4 crore, and a couple of chinaman bowlers, KKR will look to thrive on the slow nature of Eden surface.

But with evening showers predicted in the city, the spinners may find it hard to grip the white ball and the fielders will also have to put forth their sliding act carefully.

On the field, both the sides match equally on paper but with little baggage of the past and some hard-hitting players in Corey Anderson, Kieron Pollard and new signing Aaron Finch will give an edge to Mumbai Indians.

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