The teams have come here from their last encounter with contrasting backgrounds. Delhi Daredevils was thrashed by eight wickets. Rajasthan Royals won by eight wickets. But form and reputation hardly count in this format. The Indian Premier League IV is still in a nascent stage and these are just combats to test and fine-tune your team's character to fight.
Delhi's woes appear to have multiplied from the time the owners decided on the composition. Too many harsh and premature observations have been made following the huge loss at the hands of Mumbai Indians and the team management is least amused. There was little that the batsmen could have done against the slinging yorkers that Lasith Malinga produced at the Kotla.
The pitch and the conditions did not matter because Malinga sets his own terms and benchmarks.
Delhi skipper Virender Sehwag was honest in admitting that the team needed to improve and the onus fell on everyone.
“The team is learning and striving to improve,” said Sehwag. His message was clear: The competition was just one-match old and there was no reason to panic.
Rajasthan got into rhythm without fuss. The away-game was hardly a challenge for the Shane Warne-led team as the bowlers played their roles to perfection in demolishing Deccan Chargers.
The success seamers Amit Singh and Siddharth Trivedi achieved in the previous match augurs well for Rajasthan, winner of the inaugural edition.
Rajasthan has its combination right. The flexibility factor works in favour of Warne, who continues to motivate the team. The quality that he brings to the attack with his penchant to lead from the front makes Rajasthan a strong team. The form of Johan Botha and the presence of Ross Taylor at the top is an encouraging factor for the middle order.
The intensity that someone like Rahul Dravid brings to the job should be an inspiration for all young batsmen; even those wanting to make a mark in this format where 30 runs or two wickets can be enough to announce the arrival of a talent.
That Dravid, at 38, with 22,828 international runs, continues to hone his batting skills is a tribute to his dedication. How much of Dravid's technical excellence comes in handy in this format would be best answered by him but his desire to keep improving is worth a study.
To keep his place in a field of predominant youngsters requires Dravid to make that extra effort. He does it without a trace of ennui or fatigue.
Like V.V.S. Laxman, in another team, Dravid too belongs to an era where batsmen valued their wicket. Any run not from the middle of the bat would invite wrath from within.
Here, even Dravid or Laxman would not mind an edge or a cross-batted swipe if it suits the team's need. Not always aesthetic to watch but these stalwarts have accepted the innovations as part of the fast-changing demands of the game.
Amidst the many hefty heaves and mishits, one would still look forward to a Dravid clip off the legs or a Sehwag drive on the rise when the teams meet at the well-decked up Sawai Man Singh Stadium on Tuesday.
Keywords: IPL 2011