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The RR opener took the team across the line through an unbeaten 45-ball 63 while chasing 155 on Tuesday evening. After a 108-run opening stand with his captain, Rahane was involved in a 47-run unbroken partnership with Shane Watson as they cruised to victory in Jaipur.
After receiving the Man-of-the-Match award, Rahane spoke to iplt20.com about the win and his team.
Excerpts from the interview: After the match against Pune Warriors India you said you would have liked to finish the game and you did that today. Tells us how you worked and how it feels to finish the game?
Obviously anyone would like to stay and finish the game and win the match for the team. It definitely feels good to do that.
And I feel that once again our bowlers did a good job. We were one bowler short, Stuart Binny could bowl only two overs, even then they did a very good job.
What was it like batting out there and what did Rahul Dravid tell you?
When Rahul bhai is batting at one end, the batsman at the other end does not need to think too much. If you follow what he says, his instructions, then you will definitely be successful. He just told me to stay positive and play my natural game.
What was the plan while chasing?
The target was 155, so the plan was that the faster we chase it down the better because we didn’t want to take the match to the last over. In the last two-three games it was happening that the match was stretching into the last over. The plan was to try and finish the game by the 17th–18th over.
Was the run-rate a factor at the back of your mind with the points table so closely tied?
Frankly speaking I wasn’t really thinking about that a lot. When Shane Watson came in to bat and the plan was to stay positive. During the second strategic break the plan was that if we can win the match with two overs left it will be good for us.
All your three big knocks have contributed to wins and at a crucial phase in the tournament. Tell us about the knocks?
It is important to perform when the team needs it. There are still four matches to go in the league phase so we will look to take forward the positives from this game into the games ahead. In the next match I have to start from scratch again, take a fresh start.
Does this performance add to your confidence?
Yes, definitely! When you help the team win, it boosts your confidence.
Do you feel that the team is peaking at the right time?
Yes, and I feel that the atmosphere in our team is very good and the way Rahul bhai has conducted the team, he has done it brilliantly and the way we have gelled and play as a team is what is important. It matters a lot in T20 that you play as a unit. The game is a team game and you can’t depend on individuals and as a team we are playing well. With 16 points you are close to making it to the qualifiers what is the plan moving forward?
We will take it one match at a time and try to win each game.
Tell us about the role Paddy Upton has played in the team’s success?
Paddy Upton has been very good for the team and his contribution has helped. Credit goes to him and the management. The way he conducts our practice sessions and other activities is very important because it is vital to gel well as team and perform as a unit.
The youngster who has been biding his time in the team and taking in as much as he can from the experienced players and coaches in the DD set-up sent back the opposition skipper to give the visitors their only wicket in the game.
While speaking to iplt20.com, Kaul reflected on the match and his experience in the side so far.
Excerpts from the interview:
What was the plan while coming out to bowl to Rahul Dravid and to claim his wicket later?
There was no plan. I have been working on my strengths and I have been focusing hard. I had not planned to take any particular wicket. I had to bowl my best for the team and that is what I was trying to do, that effort showed on the ground.
Tell us about your strengths?
My strength is the out-swinger. I bowled out-swing with the new ball and that was working well. My focus is on what I have to do and what I should not do. I work on what the coaches tell me to do and that helps. I try to pick on what I need to do to strengthen my bowling and work on it.
How did you prepare for opening the attack against to two in-form RR batters – Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane?
Whatever we discussed in the meeting, I had kept that in my mind and I focused on that. Players who have played before me know what is required and what should be bowled and I tried to implement that.
What was the advice given to you?
Just not to give too much room to Rahul bhai. He likes it if he is given room to play and not to let him play the flick. So that is what I tried, to bowl on one line and ‘touchwood’ the first over went well. In the second over I went for runs but the start was good. I am trying to give the team what is needed and being able to do that feels good.
How different is it playing in the IPL as compared to the domestic circuit?
I am crazy about cricket. Whether I play or I don’t play, whether I am in the dug-out or wherever I am, I am always involved. The atmosphere is different here. The lime-light is a lot around here with so many big players around.
Do you feel any pressure?
If you are thinking positively and think it is another game, play it like another game everything goes well. When you are inside the 72 yards, in the ground I know I have come to play and so have they (opposition). So I only think about bowling well. If the batsman plays well he will score runs if I bowl well then I will get wickets.
I just focus on my cricket, my bowling regardless of the crowd and everything around. If the ball is in my hand I have to bowl, if the bat is in my hand then I have to bat and if I am fielding then I have to do that well.
What are you learning from the coaches and senior pacers in the squad?
You learn a lot of things like how to keep your spirits high, when you are feeling low and how you pump yourself up and come out of it. And what you should focus on when you are asked to bowl, deliver according to the needs of the team. So you are always on the mode of ‘I have to do it, I have to do it’ whenever it comes.
What is your experience of playing under Mahela Jayawardene?
It is awesome to play under such a great captain. It feels very good that you are getting to share the dressing room with such great players. It does feel good when you receive encouragement. When you field well, bowl well and get a wicket, do anything good even crack a good joke, there is a sense of involvement and oneness. There is a positive vibe and atmosphere. At no point do you feel that you are actually playing with players who you have watched on television. So that gives also adds to the positivism and it charges you up.
They have all always told me ‘do you your best and give your hundred percent’ and everything will be well and that is the focus.
What are plans going forward in the tournament?
We will be trying to do our best and give hundred and ten percent as always.