To rile the opposition into self-doubt can be an excellent tactic, but the ploy requires the backing of a tremendous performance. Shane Warne’s challenge to Sachin Tendulkar before their IPL-III encounter proved pointless, as Shaun Tait hardly bothered the Little Master.
In fact, Warne’s attempt to goad the Mumbai Indian’s skipper could have ended in total humiliation had Yusuf Pathan not turned the tide temporarily by slamming the fastest IPL hundred. Yusuf’s lusty hits salvaged some pride; otherwise the Rajasthan Royals were headed to a meek surrender.
With the focus shifting to Ahmedabad, the Royals must get their act together as they face the Delhi Daredevils next. Fresh from a fine victory against Kings XI Punjab, the Daredevils can prove to be tricky. The Gautam Gambhir-led side has a good blend of youth and experience, and it is one of the few teams in the IPL that is balanced in all departments of the game. They have the world’s most successful opening partners in Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, followed by the wily Tillakaratne Dilshan. The middle-order can opt for AB de Villiers or David Warner.
Dirk Nannes is the mainstay of Delhi’s new-ball attack with Ashish Nehra and it will be interesting to see if Wayne Parnell makes the cut.
For the Royals, Tait looked wayward and leaked too many extras in their first match. The team’s bowling was pedestrian overall with skipper Shane Warne, too, being walloped for a few big hits. Batters Naman Ojha and Abhishek Jhunjhunwala failed to capitalise on their starts and Swapnil Asnodkar will rue getting run out for a duck in his IPL opener.
Ahmedabad will hope for an encore from Yusuf Pathan, but in reality, the Royals’ top order must fire to match the star-studded Daredevils side. And this time, Warne has avoided putting his foot in his mouth. Instead, he can let the ball do the talking.