A ‘Royal’ clash on the cards
The DLF Indian Premier League caravan rolls back to the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, from where it started last Friday with its mix of glittering lights and Brendon McCullum’s bludgeoning shots.
Saturday night’s match pits two teams that have recovered after their faltering first steps to, at least partly, live up to the ‘Royal’ tag in their names.
Royal Challengers Bangalore (2 pts) and Rajasthan Royals(4) had forgettable first outings. Subsequently the ‘home’ team defeated Mumbai Indians while Shane Warne conjured rabbits out of the hat as he spun Kings XI Punjab into a bind and on Thursday, batted well to do the trick against Deccan Chargers.
Dravid leads a side that has regained some momentum atop the order with the presence of Shivnarine Chanderpaul. With Ross Taylor chipping in a cameo and Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher firing in unison in Mumbai, the batting looked in control, though it did help that the Challengers was chasing 165 and not the 222 that the Kolkata Knight Riders imposed in the first match.
Though Misbah-ul-Haq, who has joined the squad, lends the critical depth and potency, skipper Dravid has not confirmed his inclusion in the playing eleven.
The home side’s bowling has been served well by Zaheer Khan and Praveen Kumar though Kallis has failed to bottle up the batsmen. The attack could regain effectiveness as and when Dale Steyn and Anil Kumble return to the fold.
Meanwhile the visitors have proved in patches that they have the men who shine brightly, though the entire package of Shane Warne —captain-cum-coach, bowling wizard, handy lower order batsman — can be blinding in its brilliance.
Shane Watson has been a perfect all-rounder so far while Yusuf Pathan and Graeme Smith revelled against the Deccan Chargers. Mohammed Kaif and Kamran Akmal are yet to impose themselves.
Among the bowlers, Munaf Patel needs to fire upfront as the attack largely hinges on Warne’s ability to confound the batsmen. The pitch promises runs and Dravid did cast a long look at it, perhaps hoping that Warne doesn’t trigger any false demons.