Legends clash in marquee match-up
Match factsFriday, April 29, Jaipur
Start time 1600 (1030 GMT)
Just for a moment, abandon all affiliations and consider the sheer magic in the following line: Tendulkar c Dravid b Warne. If that happens, irrespective of the runs against Tendulkar's name, it will be the most poetic entry to ever make its way into a cricket scorecard. The beauty of the IPL is that it offers the possibility for something this special. The tragedy of Twenty20 is that it offers a really miniscule window of opportunity for the stars to align.
Will Warne get to bowl even a single ball at Tendulkar in Jaipur? Will he entice Tendulkar with loop and guile? Will Tendulkar just play him out and look to go after the faster bowlers? Or will Warne play defensive and bowl outside the leg stump? Will Tendulkar respond with those murderous slog sweeps against the spin, that made headlines when Australia toured India in 1998? Will Tendulkar perish first ball, edging a sharp legbreak, hurtling fast past the lone first slip? Will Dravid leap across and snap it one-handed the way he has done so often to Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh? Even if you are the biggest critic of the IPL, this is not a game you want to miss.
And now for a moment, take your minds off the legends who will clash on Friday. The teams are not evenly matched. Mumbai Indians are muscling their way through the group stages, crushing opponents with their unmatched depth. Kochi Tuskers had to play out of their skins to hand them their only defeat, and Rajasthan Royals will have to do likewise if they are to shock Tendulkar's men. In Shane Watson and Ross Taylor, they have players capable of producing the kind of high-impact performances on which Twenty20 upsets are founded. Johan Botha and Dravid are the prime-movers of the side, soaking the pressure and ensuring things go according to Warne's grand plans. But if Rajasthan are to make a dent on Mumbai's record, they will need their unknowns - Siddharth Trivedi, Ajinkya Rahane, Ashok Menaria and co. - to stand up.
Form guide (most recent first)
Mumbai: WWWLW (first in points table)
Rajasthan: WLLLW (fifth in points table)
Mumbai might have finally moved past their James Franklin obsession. Davy Jacobs adds spark to balance Sachin Tendulkar's stability at the top of the order. T Suman might come in for R Sathish, who has struggled to fit with the side's requirements. Rajasthan are expected to stick to their winning combination.
Predict the playing XIs for this match. Play ESPNcricinfo Team selector.
In the spotlight
Ajinkya Rahane, like fellow domestic giant Cheteshwar Pujara, has struggled to make an impact in the IPL. Their teams have also been guilty of wasting their abilities, by pushing them too low down the order. Elsewhere, S Badrinath has been prolific for Chennai thanks to getting opportunities at Nos. 3 and 4. Will Warne promote Rahane against Mumbai, incidentally his Ranji side and former IPL team?
Abu Nechim has the ability to surprise batsmen with an extra yard of pace. He also has the knack of producing extra lift from a length. Will Shane Watson look to tame him with his emphatic pull shots?
- In six matches, Kieron Pollard has got to bat in only three innings, has faced only three balls, and is yet to score his first run
- Shane Warne has moved past Pragyan Ojha and is now second in the all-time highest IPL wicket-takers list. RP Singh, with 56 wickets, is three ahead of him
The chatter"This will be the first time I'll play against Sachin. I'll try to have a word with him. It would be great, if I can pick up some tips from him."
Ashok Menaria is excited at the prospect of playing against Tendulkar
Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo