Hyderabad's Deccan Chargers visit Jaipur to tackle the Shane Warne-captained-and-coached Rajasthan Royals in the 30th match of the Indian Premier League today. The high-flying
Rajasthan side had their wings clipped in their last game losing to the Mumbai Indians by seven wickets, but still sit in second position in the league.
Meanwhile, the underachieving Deccan team seem to have finally clicked with a win over Chennai earlier this week. They will however, have their work cut out for them against Warne's inspirational captaincy.
After losing their first game, Warne has led the cheapest IPL side on a five-match winning streak, which was finally put to an end by the Mumbai Indians at DY Patil Stadium. Bowled out for a just 103, the Rajasthan Royals never had a chance and Mumbai reached the target in the 16th over with seven wickets to spare.
VVS Laxman will return for Deccan and take over the captaincy for today's game from another former Australian player Adam Gilchrist. The wicketkeeper-batsman said he would be happy to hand back the reigns after leading the pre-tournament favourites to only their second win.
"He [Laxman] has put up a strong foundation and I am only carrying that good work," said Gilchrist.
But even Warne will be reduced to a mere bystander if one of Deccan's deadly trio of Gilchrist, Hershelle Gibbs or Shahid Afridi hit form. Boasting three of the biggest and cleanest hitters in the game, Deccan, on paper, should be too strong for any other side, but their international stars – despite showing flashes of brilliance – have not set the tournament alight as predicted.
Instead the team have relied on steady performances by Laxman and Rohit Sharma to trudge along and their fans will be hoping that the move up the order of Gibbs to his favoured opening batting slot with Gilchrist will be the spark to set of a destructive innings. And while Rajasthan don't have the big name stars of Deccan, they have combined well as a team. Sohail Tanvir (6/14) this week claimed the best bowling figures in Twenty20 cricket, he is supported by Australian all-rounder Shane Watson and by Warne, who has proved he is just as good in this form of the game as he was in Tests and One Day Internationals.
Rajasthan's batting has been boosted by consistent scoring from South Africa captain Graeme Smith, India Twenty20 specialist Yusuf Pathan and Watson.
Smith is one of the leading scorers in Twenty20 and his form in the tournament has been phenomenal giving the Rajasthan team a edge in their push to go on top of the league today.
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar has quit his International Cricket Council post to concentrate on media commitments after the sport's governing body told him to choose between the roles.
Gavaskar, 58, chairman of the ICC's Cricket Committee for eight years, has recently been working as a commentator on the Indian Premier League.
"I envisaged the potential for this sort of issue two years ago and intimated then that I was not able to continue in the role. Now, however, it is clear I cannot combine both roles."