Jaipur, Apr 5: After bidding adieu to Test and first class cricket, Rahul Dravid will step into a new role on Friday. The former India captain will captain Rajasthan Royals for the first time in IPL 5 as they kick start their campaign against Kings XI Punjab at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium.
For the first time since IPL's inception, Royals will be without Shane Warne, who quit this Twenty20 league after last year's matches. Now it is upto Dravid to guide the team as done by the Australian legend.
Royals will miss all-rounder Shane Watson for few matches as he is playing for Australia in the West Indies Test series.
Dravid has previously captained his home side Royal Challengers Bangalore. He will be looking for a winning start against Adam Gilchrist-led Punjab.
In a way, both teams have to regroup and hope for a good season this time. After winning IPL 1, Royals have failed to live up to those standards. Punjab, first in the hands of Yuvraj Singh, were unimpressive. Last year, Gilchrist took over. The Australian was instrumental in taking Deccan Chargers to title in 2009. Punjab will expect a similar act from the wicketkeeper.
Royals have some fine Indian talent in S Sreesanth, Siddarth Trivedi and Ashok Menaria. Among the foreign recruits, Shaun Tait and Brad Hodge of Australia will be key players in this format. They also possess the talented Sri Lankan batsman Dinesh Chandimal, who can also keep wickets.
Left-arm chinaman spinner Brad Hogg is also in Royals line-up. The veteran enjoyed a good Big Bash League in Australia. It will be interesting to see how he performs on Indian wickets.
For Punjab, there is big-hitting David Hussey and Shaun Marsh of Australia. In the bowling department, Indian speedster Praveen Kumar will be an asset.
Legspinner Piyush Chawla, who has been ignored for national duties since winning the 2011 World Cup, will be hoping to catch the eye of the selectors with ICC Twenty20 coming up in September this year.
Two retired legends, Dravid and Gilchrist will come face to face on Friday. Their inspirational skills will be key in their team's fortunes.
Rajasthan Royals: Rahul Dravid (captain), Stuart Binny, Johan Botha, Deepak Chahar, Dinesh Chandimal, Ankeet Chavan, Aakash Chopra, Paul Collingwood, Kevon Cooper, Aditya Dole, Samad Fallah, Faiz Fazal, Shreevats Goswami (wk), Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, Ashok Menaria, Sumit Narwal, Pankaj Singh, Amit Paunikar, Ajinkya Rahane, Abhishek Raut, Owais Shah, Pinal Shah, Amit Singh, S Sreesanth, Shaun Tait, Siddharth Trivedi, Shane Watson, Dishant Yagnik.
Kings XI Punjab: Adam Gilchrist (captain), Rajagopal Sathish, Love Ablish, Amit Yadav, Bhargav Bhatt, Bipul Sharma, Piyush Chawla, Siddharth Chitnis, Paras Dogra, Ryan Harris, David Hussey, Praveen Kumar, Vikramjeet Malik, Mandeep Singh, Shaun Marsh, Abhishek Nayar, Nathan Rimmington, Nitin Saini, Shalabh Srivastava, Sunny Singh, Paul Valthaty, Stuart Broad, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Ramesh Powar, Harmeet Singh, Parvinder Awana, Azhar Mahmood, Vipul Sharma, James Faulkner, David Miller.
Match starts at 8 PM IST
Also playing on Friday: Mumbai Indians Vs Pune Warriors at 4 PM IST in Mumbai