One side has a reputation to protect, while the other has one to make. Rajasthan Royals versus Bangalore Royal Challengers is a contest between defending champions and the whipping boys of last year. But because it's T20 and it's a new year, it can't be called a clash of the favourites and underdogs.
Shane Warne's Royals will miss two of their major performers from last year — Shane Watson and Sohail Tanvir. The former is with the Australian team and will miss the first nine games, while the Pakistani is out following his national government's decision to stop players from taking part in the IPL.
The Royal Challengers have been bolstered by the inclusion of Kevin Pietersen, who usually receives an unkind reception in South Africa for leaving the country and opting to play for England. Usually again, he responds to that with robust strokes. There will be some other 'infighting' as well, featuring South Africans Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher. How they shape up as rivals might also play an important role in determining the fate of the match.
According to Warne his side had "a bit of a Cinderella run" last year and this time, he said, the likes of Yusuf Pathan and Ravindra Jadeja will have to shoulder additional burden to live up to the expectations. They are capable of doing that no doubt, but unlike last year, they will have to play with people expecting a lot from them.
On paper again, the Royal Challengers look stronger, but we all know how wrong those readings turned out to be last year. In this form of the game who does what on a given day matters more than what one is capable of. Since unpredictability is the name of the game, in keeping with the theme of T20, it's 50:50 before each match.