HindustanTimes Fri,28 Nov 2014
Hosts or visitors, who will be left speechless at Sawai Mansingh?
Rohit Bhaskar, Hindustan Times
Jaipur, April 17, 2012
First Published: 00:53 IST(17/4/2012)
Last Updated: 10:39 IST(17/4/2012)

Between the two of them, Deccan Chargers skipper Kumar Sangakkara and Rajasthan Royals captain Rahul Dravid have accumulated close to 23,000 Test runs. Over the past year, the duo have also amassed a shade under 15,000 words in two magical lectures that showed they were just as classy in front of a mike and an audience of cricket's greatest thinkers, as they were with a willow in their hands and an expectant crowd waiting to be entertained.

Sangakkara's eloquent MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey lecture at Lord's and Dravid's equally stirring speech at last winter's Bradman Oration in Canberra, earned them plaudits across the board --- from senior administrators to the average cricket fan --- for provoking deep thought while the sport grapples with the money-spinning extravaganza that is T20 cricket. When the two head to the middle for the coin toss and pre-match chat at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Tuesday, you can safely assume that they will be spending less time with a mike pointed down their throat. Hopefully for the fans, they'll let their bat do the talking.

Opposites collide
It's still early days in IPL-V, but as of now, the Royals and the Chargers are at the exact opposite ends of the spectrum. While Dravid has led his side to the top of the league standings, Sangakkara's men sit at the very bottom.

Replacing showman Shane Warne as the Royals' skipper, Dravid has maintained the franchise's USP-teamwork. Helping Dravid along the way has been the man who made his T20 international debut alongside him against England last summer - Ajinkya Rahane.

In what was his first and last T20I, Dravid showed Rahane, and the cricketing world, a side to his batting that had previously been swatted away like a short delivery drifting down leg-side.

Rahane struck a whirlwind 39-ball 61 in his first innings in national colours. At the other end, Dravid was signing off with reckless abandon, including three straight sixes of Samit Patel.

The sight of the most technically correct batsman of modern times attempting the old-fashioned slog was one that remained ingrained in Rahane's mind, as he now says. It showed that in T20, textbook correct isn't necessarily the way to go.

Rahane's learnt his lessons well. A 98 in the first match and a dazzling century against the Royal Challengers in their last match proved that.

Back to cricket
For Chargers, who have played only two matches so far, the match gives them a chance to exorcise the demons of that heart-breaking loss to Mumbai Indians and get them off the foot of the points' table.

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