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Shane Watson was expected to breathe life into a side that has had a slight slump in fortunes when he joined the Rajasthan Royals in the business end of IPL 2012. Having just finished his national duty, the Australian has taken this responsibility head on.
Although he had a forgettable first game, he was instrumental in RR returning to their winning ways with a victory over Kings XI Punjab. He set the pace against KXIP with a quick fire 36 and later took two wickets. The all-rounder is, now, raring to go and believes that his team has the talent to make it to the final four.
In a chat with iplt20.com, Watson spoke about his team and adapting to different conditions and formats. Excerpts from his interview: Can you tell us about your match-winning performance against Kings XI Punjab in Mohali?
It was nice to get out in the middle. I was just very disappointed with my first performance in Jaipur, so it was nice to be able to get out here in the middle [and score runs and take wickets]. It was a very beautiful wicket out there. It reminded me of home actually [with] a bit of pace and bounce [which] helped my bowling a little bit and [got] little bit swing as well. So it was good fun. Given that RR has had a slump after an initial high, do you feel the pressure to perform coming into the side at a crucial juncture in the tournament?
There is always pressure when you come into a side and play; there is no doubt about that. I expect to be able to perform consistently. And the team is also in need of performances from everyone, not just me, to be able to push for a place in the final four. So you always feel the pressure.
Whether it’s playing for Rajasthan or playing for Australia, you have to perform consistently. No doubt, we are in a position where we have to win most of our games, so there is pressure to perform on everyone, not just me. Do you consider yourself a naturally attacking batsman? What is the difference between playing the longest and the shortest format of cricket?
You do have to adapt a little. But I suppose the way my natural game is, to always try and attack and put the pressure on the bowler, no matter what. You do have to adapt a little bit for Twenty20 cricket. You have to take a few more risks in Twenty20 as compared to Test cricket, for example. But my intent is to do the same; I will try and be an aggressive batsman.
You have come into the side after playing Test cricket. How do you adapt?
It can take one or two games to be able [to switch] and a little bit of practice to get going from Test cricket to Twenty20. To get your Twenty20 attacking strokes in the groove, more than anything [you need a bit of time]. While going from Twenty20 to Test cricket you just have to pull your risk [factor] back a little bit more. So it just takes a little bit of time. It normally just takes a couple of training sessions to be able to get your head around exactly what your plans are [for the format] and also making sure that the strokes that you are going to be using majority of the time; you have got them ready to go.
What kinds of adjustments are required while switching formats?
It’s mainly a mental adjustment that one has to make, but also a slightly technical one. In Twenty20 cricket, for example, you need to have attacking shots [in your repertoire], the boundary shots that you need to go to with if team needs a boundary. Whereas in Test cricket you just wait, wait until you get a loose ball. So you do have to practice a few of those shots. It normally takes a few training sessions to get on the roll.
Rajasthan Royals is a side with fewer international stars than most teams. But it has lifted the IPL trophy once. Is there a possibility of pulling it off again?
There is a possibility. We certainly have got the talent to be able to do it. It is just about bringing it all together. In the first year that we won, we won most of the matches that we got played. Unfortunately, this year, so far we have lost a few really close matches. Hopefully, we can really get on a roll now, but there is no doubt that we have the talent; we just have to bring it all together.
What is Rajasthan Royals' USP?
We were always the underdogs, so we certainly always play above ourselves [...].
What are your thoughts on your skipper, Rahul Dravid?
He is probably the nicest guy I have ever met in cricket. He is unbelievably down-to-earth. He is an extremely lovely man and just loves cricket so much that he if he could, he would play with until the day he dies. I think, he is just been a really brilliant influence on me to just to talk to him about cricket and just the way he has lived his life. He has been a great influence on me just to remain calm through every situation.
Your teammate Ajinkya Rahane, who is having a good season so far, is not a big-hitter like most. What are your thoughts on him?
He does have a lot of the powerful shots. He has got a broader range of shots and he can hit the ball all around the ground. He is an extremely talented young batsman. I saw him a couple of years ago in a tour match that we played here in Chandigarh and from then on I knew that he was always going to play for India because he is such a talented batsman as he has shown so far in the IPL and also when he played for India. He batted nicely through that period as well. He is certainly the star that is ready to go into the Indian team.
You have had rough patches and have overcome injuries. How do you motivate yourself to keep going in tough times and what is your advice to others?
I don’t have to motivate myself because I always love to play cricket and when I am not playing because I am injured or something, then I miss it. The reason why you play is for the enjoyment and love of the game. You never want to lose that passion and love of the game, because that’s the reason that you started playing; you don’t want to lose that.
Advise: Just think back to reason why you first started playing cricket and which is because of the pure enjoyment and love of playing. And that’s why when you get a little in front of yourself you can forget the reason why you started playing. So [just remind yourself of that]. I certainly haven’t forgotten, because I know how quickly it can be taken away from you.
The Kolkata Knight Riders made their way to the top of the points table by comfortably beating the Delhi Daredevils at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in Match 51 of DLF IPL 2012. KKR spinner Sunil Narine played a crucial role in restricting one of the most feared batting line-ups in the tournament to 153 runs in their own backyard.
In a brief chat with iplt20.com, the off-spinner spoke about the win and KKR’s good run.
Excerpts from Narine’s interview:
On restricting the power packed DD line-up to 153
Just keeping the areas right [bowling in the right areas] [...].
On the wicket
It was a bit helpful when you bowl a bit slower. On how it helped his bowling
It varies. I concentrate on my areas and bowled a little slow in this game, and that helped me a lot.
On his team moving to the top of the table
I think it’s a team effort and everyone is gelling and everyone is happy for each other. [...]
On whether it was a good toss to lose
We would have probably batted first [too], so it doesn’t matter what the toss was. I think batting or bowling, [either] is capable of winning the game for us.
On sharing the dressing room with international stars
The way they carry themselves and the way they approach the game, I think is a good learning lesson for me. Being with the top cricketers of the world, I hope to learn one or two things and be as capable as they are. On how bowling to batsmen like Gautam Gambhir and Jacques Kallis in the nets
It helps my bowling [and] with my areas. [...] So I think it’s a good. It’s a privilege to bowl to them in the nets and it’s working for me at this moment.