Teams look to build on early success
Monday, April 8, 2013
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
Both Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders have begun this IPL campaign with victories, and their captains have had a significant influence on the outcome with strong batting displays. Knight Riders won their home game on a slower pitch, where Sunil Narine and the medium-pacers proved highly effective in containing Delhi Daredevils with regular wickets. Royals, too, beat the same opposition, in more batting-friendly conditions, but Daredevils pushed them close. Knight Riders' chase was comfortable, Royals' defense of 165 required two excellent overs at the death and a brilliant effort in the field to run out David Warner.
As the teams look to build on their early success, they have some fitness worries heading in to the game in Jaipur. Rahul Dravid, the Royals captain, who hardly played since the last IPL season, scored a half-century but had to leave the field due to cramps, though is expected to play on Monday. Perhaps their most important player, Australia allrounder Shane Watson, has joined the squad and took part in a practice session on Sunday.
For Knight Riders, Jacques Kallis, L Balaji, and Brett Lee reportedly suffered a stomach bug but are recovering. Apart from winning more convincingly, Knight Riders were excellent in the field against Daredevils, while Royals dropped a couple of catches - but they did pull off two terrific bits of fielding to transform the game. Though they'll be playing at home, Royals may yet again start as underdogs against the defending champions.
Players to watch
The last month of India's domestic season was a productive one for Yusuf Pathan, who has warmed up well for the IPL with a century and two half-centuries in a row in the Vijay Hazare Trophy before this. The IPL in 2012, despite his own team's title triumph, was personally not as satisfying, with 194 runs in 16 innings at 19.40. He calmly guided Knight Riders to victory in the opening game after Gambhir's dismissal, and his team will be looking for more assured performances from him this time around.
Comparisons with Sanath Jayasuriya will chase Kusal Perera through the tournament, especially with his attempted flicks past square leg. He has a triple-century to his name in first-class cricket, had a good home series against Bangladesh, and played some attractive shots during his brief stay in the Royals' IPL opener. Swapnil Asnodkar made a name for himself in the IPL in the first season in 2008 for the Royals (though he's faded away since then), can Perera do better?
Stats and trivia
- L Balaji has conceded the most runs to Rahul Dravid in the IPL. Dravid has taken 59 runs off 43 balls off Balaji and has been dismissed just once.
- Brad Hodge has struck the most boundary fours in T20 cricket, with 549 in 180 games.
"We have some depth in our team this year. We want to mix and match our team and when Shane Watson comes back we will be even stronger."
"We approach every game as if it's the last, that it means everything. There's no use worrying about added pressure, just go out and play better cricket than the opposition."
Siddhartha Talya is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo