Mahela Jayawardene and Kevin Pietersen,fierce rivals over the last fortnight of Test cricket in Sri Lanka,found time to exchange notes about the Indian Premier League during their common Colombo-New Delhi flight that they boarded on Sunday. Their chat revolved around the nomadic excursions that the two batsmen have undertaken since the start of the IPL in 2008.
The newest recruits of the Delhi Daredevils have,between them,represented four other franchisees in the league and even captained three of them. So clearly,there wasnt a dearth of stories to be narrated on the journey. If Jayawardene and Pietersen didnt share a bond earlier,the five hour air travel time from Colombo to the Indian capital,most definitely changed that.
Jayawardene,as vice-captain of the Delhi franchise,addressed the media on the eve of their first home game,and then joined his team mates for a warm-up drill at the Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium. But not long into his training routine,his travel companion strode into the practice arena and brought the session to a halt.
Apparently,while Jayawardene was busy with his media commitments,Pietersen had taken the effort to collect not just his,but also Jayawardenes dark blue pads from the dressing room,so that the Lankan would not have to waste any time travelling back and forth to the dressing room. The England batsman then called out to inform the same to Jayawardene,and the gesture allowed him to head immediately towards the nets for his first batting session in the official Delhi gear. The camaraderie between the two was there to be seen. The strong rivalry when they competed against each other last week has turned into friendship.
They are playing in the IPL just days after both scored centuries in the second and final Test at the P Sara Stadium,but that intensity was diluted immediately after they donned the blue and red of Team DD.
Pietersen watched Jayawardene practice with as much respect as when his England side was being punished by his twin centuries in Galle and Colombo,while Jayawardene examined the same man who made a match winning 151 against his Lankan side.
On Monday evening,the Man-of-the-Match winners of the two-match Test series seemed happy to be playing for the same side,in adjoining nets. Over the next few weeks,their new found respect for each other will only grow as they spend time in the same dressing room. It is a bond that the Delhi think tank is hoping will help the franchise.
Talk of challenge
For both of us (KP and me),it is a good challenge, said Jayawardene on the eve of the match against the Chennai Super Kings on Tuesday. We had a good chat at the end of the Test series,and while coming here,as we were on the same flight. We discussed the opportunity we have in hand to play with new players. Were looking forward to the challenge.
Like his new-found buddy,Pietersen too felt that the IPL had helped international players from vastly different backgrounds,as is the case with him and Jayawardene,become better friends off the field.
That is the beauty of the IPL. Mahela and me were playing against each other till a few days back but now we are in the same team, said KP,on the sidelines of the practice arena on Monday. He is a fantastic chap and a great player to have in the dressing room. I knew it during the flight itself,and I am looking forward to playing alongside him in this IPL.
Virender Sehwag,the skipper of the Delhi Daredevils,spent quality time on Monday batting alongside these two international giants. Any captain would love to have Mahela in KP in their side, said Sehwag. They will be a big boost to us.
They were perhaps thinking the very same thing,when after the net session,the pair sat together in the dugout,sipping re-energising sports drinks. The talking will now be done with their combined woodwork.
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