Six summers ago at Ahmedabad, Gary Kirsten and Paddy Upton had just begun their partnership as India’s coaching brains, learning some quick lessons from the innings-and-90 runs drubbing at the hands of South Africa. They were to reverse the result quickly by helping the Indians to a big win at Kanpur in the next Test and begin India’s successful international run.
On Thursday, the two will find themselves on opposing sides at the same Motera, with Delhi Daredevils’ coach Kirsten grappling with a host of problems and many more lessons to learn while his erstwhile associate sits pretty as Rajasthan Royals chug along with precise plans drawn up in their dugout.
Kirsten in his maiden stint as IPL coach is finding the going tough and with only two wins from 10 games, Delhi can now hope to score a consolation high. Or probably play spoilsport for teams, who are looking to qualify for knockouts – like the Royals. Delhi has been marred by inconsistent batting where apart from JP Duminy none have managed to step up, Kedar Jadhav has batted too low and catching up with big scores is tough. Their captain Pietersen too has squandered good starts after a prolonged lean patch and is eager to come up with notable performances that have been all too rare this season.
When Delhi Daredevils appointed Kevin Pietersen as their captain for IPL-7 they had hoped that he could turn around the fortunes of the team, like his former Hampshire team-mate Shane Warne did for the Royals. The capital side would’ve wanted to build a brand-new squad around KP, but can only look jealously at Rajasthan who’ve transitioned nicely from Warne to Watson, who’s doing it all — bowling, batting and leading by inspiration.
Rajasthan, who are placed third on the table with 12 points in ten games, are looking to strengthen their position on the table. The former champions will have to win each of their games so that they remain in the hunt for the qualifiers. Skipper Watson has looked in supreme touch in the last game against Chennai Super Kings but might find the pitch to be on the slower side.
Yet, he can summon his ever-effective spinner Pravin Tambe who will look to increase his wicket tally, while Delhi mull over their bowling options, still smarting from the Yuvraj Singh assault at Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Quite a turning of tables for the two captains from a year ago, when Shane Watson was packing his bags for the long journey back after homework-gate, and KP was picking accolades as best Test batsman for his 186 against India in the previous year. The IPL’s turning on its head reputations of quite a few men – from coaches to captains.
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