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El Clasico in IPL

cricket Updated: Apr 29, 2011 02:03 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

The organisers of this IPL game are smiling from ear to ear. They are showing around mails of regret on their phones about how there are no tickets left for the first time in Jaipur during this IPL season.

The reason is obvious: Sachin Tendulkar, fresh from his heroics in the World Cup, will step on to the pitch at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium on Friday against old nemesis, Shane Warne.

At Thursday’s press conference, Harbhajan Singh, the Mumbai Indians off-spinner, was asked to comment on Warne. He quipped, “Warne’s a great bowler, who doesn't need to spin the ball.”

While Sachin's presence has jacked up the attendance, for pure cricketing reasons, Sachin vs Warne will be the one to watch out for.

Contrasting skippers
Duel apart, their captaincy has been in contrast. Tendulkar has led his side to the top of the table without tampering much with the line-up, while Warne has pulled up surprises far too frequently. Whether it is Ashok Menaria opening the bowling or Ross Taylor being pushed down to No. 6 or Johan Botha getting promoted to No. 3, he has been shuffling the line-up far too regularly.

The team doesn't have a settled look despite having stars like Taylor, Shane Watson, Botha and Rahul Dravid. Part of the blame should fall on the Indian players too. Unlike in their victorious first season, when local players like Swapnil Asnodkar, Yusuf Pathan and Munaf Patel complemented the international stars, this time around there has been no standout performer.http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/29_04_pg22a.jpg

Local talent
In comparison, some of the Mumbai Indians' local stars have risen to the occasion. No wonder then that Harbhajan was so effusive in his praise of Ambati Rayudu, who till now was believed to be out of India reckoning. "He is the one to step into the boots of Laxman and Dravid. He's a great talent," Bhajji said, catching mediapersons by surprise.

But then, IPL has given a lifeline to many players, most notably Amit Mishra, so, this could be Rayudu’s chance to make it big.

As for Warne, he’ll have to conjure something really magical to stop the Mumbai Indians juggernaut. The two teams are 1-1 at this venue, with MI winning here last year.