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Rajasthan Royals skipper says his team can beat any opposition on their day
By IPL Staff
Bengaluru 14 April 2012
After finishing his international career, Rahul Dravid is now mentoring and leading the Rajasthan Royals in DLF IPL 2012. His team has won both home games, but has also lost as many away fixtures so far. RR’s next challenge is taking on the strong Royal Challengers Bangalore in their own backyard.
Ahead of the big game, Dravid spoke in detail about his team’s performance so far, and admitted that they need to start winning away from home to become a force to reckon with in the tournament. Excerpts:
On RR’s ordinary away record
We are discussing that. We know that we’re quite a tough team to play at home and we know our conditions really well. We haven’t had a great record away and that’s an area where we want to get better at. One reason for that is that we have a very young squad. I thought, in the last two games that we lost, we were quite competitive and we weren’t outclassed by any stretch of imagination. They were close games and things could have gone any way. But yes, we need to start winning games away from home as well.
On his Bangalore homecoming
It’s always lovely to come back and play in Bangalore; it’s the place I’ve grown up, and [I’ve] got some of my greatest memories playing here. It’s going to be exciting for me to play in this stadium in front of my home fans. Last season, our game in Bangalore was washed out and I’m looking forward to playing here this time around. On whether he’s batting freely in Twenty20 cricket after retiring from Tests
If you noticed in the past seasons of the IPL, I’ve always tried to play shots suiting this format, and I haven’t approached it any differently this year. As always, I’ve been practising, working on certain shots and the things I want to improve on. It’s just a constant process – practise, enjoy it and keep trying to add to it by doing different things. That has been true for every year I’ve come into the IPL. On RR’s team motto
At Rajasthan Royals, we believe in keeping things as simple as possible. We want to give people the freedom to play and express themselves and try to create a fun environment within the team. These are the things I noticed with Warnie [Shane Warne] in the last season. And it’s the same this year. We don’t over-complicate things, don’t have long meetings and don’t spend a lot of time in practice. However, we ensure whatever we do, there’s intensity and an element of fun in it. I’ve been pretty pleased with the way the guys have performed in the last four games. Irrespective of the losses, I’m enjoying the fact that some of our youngsters have competed against the experienced players [in the IPL]. That’s a good sign for us going forward.
On whether in-form Owais Shah and Brad Hodge should be promoted higher up the order
We have specific roles for our overseas players. We recognise Hodge as an extremely good finisher under pressure and [for] getting those crucial runs for us batting first. It’s not going to happen often that he gets only 10 balls to face, as it happened in the last game against KKR. Sometimes, it’s just how the game pans out. On all-rounder Kevon Cooper’s injury
We’ll take a call on him tomorrow. He’s a very exciting young kid in T20 cricket. He played three games and developed a swollen knee. We didn’t want to risk him in this long tournament. We have our fingers crossed. On whether they would look to include either of S Sreesanth and Shaun Tait in the team
We’d have loved to play Sreesanth, but unfortunately he’s injured. In the auction for this season, we had recognised that we were short of an Indian international bowler and Sree was picked specifically to fill that space. But unfortunately, he hasn’t yet recovered from his injury and probably will not be available for the next two-three weeks. That’s a bit of a blow.
With Shaun, again, he’s having a couple of injury issues. But with him it’s more about maintaining the balance of the team in terms of four overseas players. He’s always an exciting option to have. The good thing for us is that all the overseas players we’ve featured so far have performed well in these four games. Hopefully, they’ll keep doing that. On facing a strong team like RCB in their own backyard
We know RCB are a very formidable team. But we believe that if we play to our potential, we are capable of beating any team on a given day. All I want from the players is to play tough cricket and enjoy it. I expect high level of energy and commitment on the field, and I’m very pleased with how all the guys have performed in the last four matches.
Daniel Vettori’s men dominated that match against CSK for 38 overs, but were pipped to the post by Albie Morkel’s blitz and some poor bowling. It is going to take some doing for the RCB support staff to wipe out the horrors of that defeat and prepare their team so they go out to battle with a positive frame of mind.
The Rajasthan Royals won their first two home games in style, but have since gone down in both their away matches – first losing to the Mumbai Indians and then to the Kolkata Knight Riders. This fixture will be their third consecutive away game, and Rahul Dravid will want to turn his team’s fortunes around at a venue that was home to him for over 20 years.
Sunday, April 15, 2011, 08:00 p.m.
M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore
Chris Gayle took some time to warm up to his big-hitting form, but when he did get into that zone he sent several deliveries over the fence with very little effort. The RCB team management and fans will be hoping the Jamaican can continue to pull off those big shots regularly and better his performance from DLF IPL 2011.
Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers are other key batmen in the RCB line-up. Meanwhile, Muttiah Muralitharan continues to defy his age, and performs with the same level of skill and energy that made him the leading wicket-taker in international cricket.
Apart from Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane at the top of the innings, the Rajasthan Royals will hope Owais Shah can maintain his good form through the rest of the competition.
The Rajasthan Royals could possibly look at including Shaun Tait in their line-up, given the hard surface they are likely to encounter at the venue. The 29-year-old will have fond memories of the venue; he had picked up five wickets in a 2011 CLT20 match against RCB. Also, by now, RR would have learnt about Gayle’s weakness against quick bowlers, and they would want to exploit that it.
The record stands at one win apiece between the Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Rajasthan Royals in their three clashes at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium; with one match getting washed away by rain. Overall though, RCB hold a slight edge, having won four off the eight contests between the two teams.
Shaun Tait’s best bowling figures in Twenty20 cricket (five for 32) were achieved against the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
In his 16-year international career, Rahul Dravid only made three half-centuries in 22 innings (15 Test innings, 7 ODI innings) at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. However, in 12 IPL innings at the venue, he has already scored two half-centuries, and will look to add to his tally.
Rajasthan Royals will be seen in action next on April 17 when they host the Deccan Chargers, who will be searching for their first victory in DLF IPL 2012. The Royal Challengers Bangalore will be seen in action on the same day, when they take the field at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium to clash with the Pune Warriors India.