New Delhi: A wave of the hand, followed by, “Hi, all well?” were exchanged as Rahul Dravid strode towards the Rajasthan Royals nets at the Feroz Shah Kotla yesterday, ahead of their contest against hosts Delhi Daredevils today.
Rajasthan Royals coach Paddy Upton (left) with mentor Rahul Dravid and opener Ajinkya Rahane (right) during a practice session at Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi yesterday. Pic/PTI.
Here is a man who really takes his job seriously. He was in total command, orchestrating the batting sequence, instructing bowlers to shift between nets and keeping a keen eye on the little glitches as his side went about their job efficiently.
He was followed in by Shane Watson, who threw a smile as the ‘Super Over’ caught his ear. That was a job well done but that is in the past, and the business at hand caught his focus.
“Rajasthan Royals is always this underdog team,” said a former Delhi player, involved in the logistics of the tournament at the Kotla. “Wonder why, when they have a mentor like Dravid and batsmen like Watson.”
The tone was of admiration and everyone around stood and appreciated a couple of cover-drives that cracked off Watson’s bat. He is looking in supreme touch. The IPL has become a clash of personalities as much as it is a contest between teams.
Watson and Kevin Pietersen are the two big men whose larger than life characters reflect on their teams as well. The Daredevils seemed all at sea when Pietersen was out nursing his injury and are still struggling, though a couple of wins make them look a little better. Royals, on the other hand, look very keen and if body language is any indicator, they look really good for Saturday’s game.
The Daredevils had an optional practice at Palam, far away from the venue, so ‘home advantage’ isn’t so much of a thing for them. As their South African recruit Quinton de Kock had observed “it (home advantage) doesn’t really mean much to me anyway. Maybe for the local players.”
But given that Daredevils are likely to have almost as much access to Kotla as any opponents, doesn’t make much difference really.
A sudden dust storm in the evening ended the Daredevils’ nets while the Royals plodded on under surreal dark skies. Their commitment is what makes them winners.
IPL on TV: Delhi Daredevils vs Rajasthan Royals, Live on Sony Max, Sony Six & Sony Six HD, 20:00
. Rajasthan Royals’ bowlers muzzled a seasoned Delhi Daredevils top order, despite their strike bowler’s indiscretions. Shaun Tait began the match with an 11-run over, three wides among those runs, and his second cost 17, later in the Powerplay. But James Faulkner and Shane Watson had struck once each in between those Tait overs
. Chasing 155, RR’s openers Ajinkya Rahane and Rahul Dravid put on an unbeaten century stand in orthodox fashion, and ensured DD’s modest total would not challenge them
. Whatever hopes Delhi Daredevils had of making a match of it evaporated when Rahane was dropped on four. He hardly played a false stroke thereafter and finished on 63 not out from 45 balls. Rajasthan won by nine wickets