Match Date: April 9
Venue: Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Uppal, Hyderabad
Two teams who have a point to prove. In an ideal world, this should have been a contest between Australia’s captain and vice-captain. But a lot has changed since Steven Smith admitted to planning ball-tampering during Australia’s third Test against South Africa. Both Smith and David Warner – appointed captains of Rajasthan and Hyderabad – have been banned for a year by Cricket Australia.
IPL franchises are not new to losing key players at crucial stages, but to lose Smith and Warner in the fashion that they did must have left scars on both the franchises.
Hyderabad, who were one of the best performers in the auction, would be keen to get their campaign at home started on a winning note and assure to their ‘orange army’ that life without Warner won’t be bad. Rajasthan, the erstwhile money ball team, have some of the most attractive foreign players in their ranks, and no one turns more heads than Ben Stokes.
The difficult times of Stokes is well archived, and IPL offers him a chance to reestablish his credentials as one of the world’s best allrounders. He is a proven commodity in this tournament, having produced some epic performances for Rising Pune Supergiant in the last edition.
Hyderabad would be wary of the depth that Rajasthan possess, but they themselves have their house to put in order. Will Alex Hales click straightaway at the top of the order? That’s one of the questions that will be in focus during the match.
Also, it will be interesting to see how Hyderabad use Manish Pandey, who was bought for Rs 11 crore in the auction. Pandey has grown in stature over the last few months and is now clearly a senior Indian batsman. How Shikhar Dhawan and he perform will go a long way in helping Hyderabad decide their Indian batting composition.
Like Stokes, eyes will also be on Rashid Khan. The legspinner bamboozled so many heavyweight batsmen with his googlies in the last edition that surely franchises will have a better plan against him this time around. How he rises to the challenge will go a long way in not only complementing Bhuvneshwar Kumar, but also deciding how his own career graph shapes up from hereon.
Dwayne Bravo showed on the inaugural night of IPL that no game is over till it’s over. If both Hyderabad and Rajasthan follow that line then there could be a cracker of a contest on offer.
Played 7. Hyderabad 3, Rajasthan 4.
Head-to-head record at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium:
Played 1. Hyderabad 1, Rajasthan 0.