The heat is on, literally. The teams have started to find their rhythm but the weather too has begun to test the endurance of the journeymen on the circuit.
The veterans and the youngsters have a tough task on hand as they continue their relentless pursuit in a format that challenges their mental and physical attributes.
The pressures of performing consistently can be stifling. The crass nature of the competition means the players would be subjected to tough demands from the franchise. Close finishes only heighten the expectations. They can motivate, and shatter too, the fighting instincts of a player, however seasoned he may be.
The Indian Premier League (IPL) continues to hold the attention of the cricketing world. Those privileged to be associated with the IPL find it the most happening event of the game. Ask Ajinkya Rahane. He finds himself in the limelight after some aggressive batting. But then this Mumbai batsman has been around for some time, scoring prolifically in domestic cricket. The IPL has obviously helped Rahane swell his fan-club. He is said to be hot property.
Not that he happens to be an overnight discovery. The State selectors' wisdom was backed at the National level. Rahane, who made a 143 on first-class debut four years ago (against Karachi Urban in Karachi) in the Mohammad Nissar Trophy, was always rated high by coach Pravin Amre. “He has class and the potential to serve Indian cricket long,” asserted Amre.
Rahane is convincing at the crease. He has played a major role in Rajasthan Royals dishing out some regal stuff, even if in patches. Rahane's consistency, scores of 98 and 103 not out, suggests his comfort in this brand of cricket. In Mumbai, he is considered a paragon of correct batting. He is at ease plundering runs in T20 too.
Owais Shah, a clean striker of the ball, has served Rajasthan Royals well. With 204 runs, 56 less than Rahane, the England cricketer is enjoying his IPL stint this season. His clinical hitting has been a bonus for his team, not to forget the mentoring of Rahul Dravid. His influence is not to be missed as Rajasthan Royals has adopted a sober approach with emphasis on collective assault.
Rajasthan Royals' opponent on Tuesday will be Deccan Chargers, champion of the 2009 edition. Having lost both its matches, Deccan Chargers will be motivated enough to tame Rajasthan Royals, which has won both its matches here.
Chargers started shakily against Chennai Super Kings but went down to Mumbai Indians in a last-ball finish. The team will need a stellar show from its foreign imports, Kumar Sangakkara and Cameron White, just the type Dale Steyn has produced by bowling at scorching pace. One can look forward to a Rahane-Steyn duel. It will make the evening even for the purists.