Royals take on depleted Delhi
Match factsSaturday, April 6, 2013
Start time 1600 (1030 GMT)
The first couple of matches are always about getting the ball rolling in a long tournament where the teams go through cycles of form and they are important in helping team management take an uncomplicated view. Rajasthan Royals open their season with a clean slate when they take on a depleted home side, Delhi Daredevils, who had an insipid outing in Kolkata in the first match of the tournament.
Royals are without one man who is likely to be a constant in their equation this season - Shane Watson, who is not available for this match - and that opens up a vital spot for them to test one of their imports. In-form Sri Lanka batsman Kusal Perera is almost certain in the XI but the choice of other three could depend on the surface laid out in Delhi. The other interesting bit for Royals would be how their captain-cum-coach Rahul Dravid copes with his first taste of competitive cricket in almost a year. The longer he takes to find his groove, the more muddled the strategies would get.
Daredevils are still handicapped by the absence of two of their impact players - Virender Sehwag, who is out with back spasms, and Morne Morkel, who is playing domestic Twenty20 in South Africa. But this time, they are playing at home, against a not-so-daunting opponent they have beaten every time at home and the team would hope to put up a better batting performance to get a move on.
Players to watch
Kusal Perera is a rising star in Sri Lankan cricket and Royals have been lucky to fetch his services for just US$20,000. A good season here and that price, in all likelihood, is expected to multiply a few times over. Perera is a powerful player who loves to play lofted shots on either side of the wicket. He has often been compared to Sanath Jayasuriya, who, 17 years ago, ended the career of another Delhi bowler on this ground.
David Warner had a quiet start to the tournament by his standards, but in the absence of Sehwag, his form is crucial for Daredevils to do well as the middle order appeared a bit undercooked in the last game. Warner has scored a century and two fifties on his home ground.
Stats and trivia
- Daredevils have beaten Royals six times in the ten matches they have played against each other. They have lost just once in the last six matches
- In Brad Hodge and Owais Shah, Royals have two of the top five run-scorers in Twenty20s
- Rahul Dravid has scored 1703 IPL runs, which is the most among players from both sides
"I like Unmukt Chand a lot. He comes to my room often and asks me a lot of questions. We discuss how to deal with pressure situations and I tell him about my discussions with the Australian psychologist Mike Lloyd."
David Warner is impressed with his opening partner
"The game against Delhi last year was disappointing as we lost by just one run. We have learnt from our past mistakes and are ready to start from scratch."
Rajasthan Royals Ajinkya Rahane
Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo