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IPL Staff in Delhi 05 April 2013 - 08:29pm IST

My focus is on captaining RR: Dravid

Awarded the Padma Bhushan, captain hopes to get off to a winning start

Rajasthan Royals will be hoping to kick start the tournament for themselves on a winning note when they take on the Delhi Daredevils at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Saturday. The Rahul Dravid-led side have been toiling in the sweltering Delhi heat for the past few days and will be looking to reverse their fortunes against the home team. Last season RR lost both their matches against Daredevils, one of which was by just one-run at the same venue. 

While addressing the media after practice, the Royals’ skipper said, “Delhi is a terrific side they are one of the powerhouses in the competition. They have big names (and) especially at home they are going to be dangerous. They beat us twice last year but this year hopefully we can (beat them).

While discussing his role in the side and the added responsibilities he has while grooming youngsters, Dravid said, “I am not the coach. Paddy Upton is our coach and then we have Zubin Bharucha and also we have Monty Desai. We have coaching staff who are supporting. I am playing this tournament as a captain and a player. And there is additional responsibility, I am closely working with the coaches and managing a lot of things but my focus is on captaining and trying to put in a good performance.”

Speaking about the team Dravid mentioned that one of their key players, Shane Watson will not be playing in their tournament opener. “Watto will arrive some time tonight but won’t be available for tomorrow’s game. It is a long season. He is coming off a long flight so we don’t want to push him. We have a game on April 8th in Jaipur so that is going to be his first game of the season. We are looking forward to having him back. And hopefully he will start bowling soon at some stage,” he elaborated.

Further while discussing the team compositions and the impact of fast bowlers like Shaun Tait and Fidel Edwards, pacers in the shortest format of the game he explained, “We have picked them to bowl flat out and bowl quick that’s the reason why we have them in the side, we want them to bowl quick. Certain kind of wickets and certain places gives us the chance to have that shock value. But, picking them in all the games is the biggest challenge for us. Till Watson starts bowling in that all-round ability, we have just to mix and match and see whether it is possible for us to play one of them.”

“You got to have change of pace or you got to be really quick and that’s proven in twenty20. You have to have the skill. Pace is skill and it is very valuable in any form of the game and even in twenty20 and that’s why you see a lot of fast bowlers are sought after by teams. Trying to take on a really quick bowler is not easy if gets it right.”

When asked about packing the side with left-arm spinners, he replied, “We would like to play them in some situation. We have Ankeet Chavan from Mumbai and to back him up with Harmeet Singh and Kumar (Boresa) is a young kid, a developmental cricketer for us. Brad Hogg comes in and spins the ball both ways. And so we like to play them. Most teams have good left-arm spinners we saw Murali Kartik play yesterday and we saw the effect a good left-arm spinner can have.”

He also elaborately spoke about the inclusion of young players in the Rajasthan Royals squad. “We have quite a few new comers and you will see them as the season goes on. We picked quite a few young boys – we have got couple of guys from Kerala - Sachin Baby and Sanju Samson are exciting. We have brought in Harmeet Singh as well and we have picked Rahul Shukla, a quick bowler from Jharkahnd. We have got young and exciting wicketkeeper-batsman from Sri Lanka -Kusal Perera. He has the potential to be a good player. We have brought in young Kumar Boresa from Pali. We have given the opportunity to experience what it is like to play in the IPL and hopefully he will gain a lot from that.

We are a team that likes to promote young players we will have to see how we can fit them in but as the season goes on you will see lot of them coming into the playing 11.”

Speaking about his own fitness and maintaining it, Dravid said, “It was definitely a little more difficult (than before). Playing all the time there is a motivation to stay fit. There is a motivation to stick to your routine but I had a whole year off. I had eight months off so I found it a little difficult in the initial period, but over the last two and half- three months I have really buckled down and worked really hard preparing for this event. I am looking forward to it as much as anyone else.”

“There are general targets. I know what my fitness standards and numbers were when I was at my peak and playing my best cricket. I have tried to be as close to that as possible may not have achieved all the targets or hit the numbers which is to be expected as you grow older, but I am very close to where I was.”

The veteran cricketer was conferred with the Padma Bhushan on Friday for his contribution to cricket over the years. Reflecting on receiving one of the highest awards in the country said, “It was lovely to be able to go to the Padma awards function today for me personally and for my wife and parents to be there just worked out beautifully for me. I couldn’t have asked for better luck, get the Padma award on fifth and play the match in Delhi on the sixth. I could have been playing anywhere and would have had to rush here but it worked out perfectly for me I couldn’t have scripted it better in terms of these awards being here in Delhi.”

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