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Prajakta Pawar in Jaipur 26 April 2013 - 06:12pm IST

We are focused on our preparations: Yagnik

RR ‘keeper-bat says Watson coming into form is a boost

With four wins off seven matches the Rajasthan Royals are in the first half of the points table mid way through the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013. As they prepare to take on the Sunrisers Hyderabad in their eighth match of the season, on home turf, the Rahul Dravid-led team will be looking to strengthen their position in quest for the crown.

Both the teams come into the match with a loss to Chennai Super Kings and will be keen to get back to winning ways. The Sunrisers have one of the best bowling attacks in the tournament, Dale Steyn, heading it.

Speaking about facing the bowling attack, Royals’ wicketkeeper-bat, Dishant Yagnik said, “Yes the Sunrisers attack is good. They have on occasions defended 120 odd runs. But the bowling will be different on different wickets. They have good pacers and spinners.”

Yagnik who had clobbered Dale Steyn in the previous season said that although he will take confidence from that fact, the game on Saturday is new and a different occasion.

“I will only take a little confidence from then because each match is different and big players like Dale Steyn back themselves so much they know what to do when. They play international cricket the year round and have that experience. I will take just a bit of confidence but will try to help the team win when I get the opportunity and will play according to the requirement of the team and fulfill the responsibility given to me.”

“We are very confident and we are not looking at the team that they have. We are just focusing on our process and we will do our best. And that is what we are looking at and if we are able to execute the processes, the results will follow,” he added.

The winners of the inaugural season in 2008, the Royals are working on strengthening the team in every aspect on and off the field. The Royals, who has thrived on performances of local talent as well as the experience of the overseas players, come across as a strong unit.

One of the initiatives that the team management and coaching staff have started is forming committees within the team to improve the team environment. While speaking about the concept, Yagnik told the media, “Just like during Shane Warne’s tenure we had the doll, Pinky and if anyone came in late or something Pinky was given to them to look after. So, instead this year we have a social committee, entertainment committee and ground committee etc. So far we haven’t done anything big but it is for ensuring in keeping the team environment light; for instance if we reach the airport early we have interactions amongst ourselves etc.”

“The management, Paddy Upton and a few floated this concept with the aim to help us handle this two-month long tournament mentally and physically. We are more like a family and understanding each other and being with each other, getting to know each other is what we are trying to do. Paddy Upton is doing us a lot of good, he knows how each individual reacts so he has assigned roles to everyone accordingly. It feels good.”

“Ajinkya and I are asked to maintain the team energy levels. So, Ajinkya and I are responsible to lift the energy within the team and maintain a mark.”

Besides this, the wicketkeeper-bat has also been assigned the role of a pinch hitter and promoted up the order in the last match against Chennai Super Kings in Chennai.

Speaking about his on-field role, Yagnik said, “Honestly the responsibility increases because once you perform a certain role the second time around there are expectations from you. And being a Rajasthan player this is a huge thing for me because IPL is a big platform in India for any youngster to grow. So if I get to bat one down and that too against the Mumbai Indians and CSK, two of the best teams in IPL, I feel it shows how much the team, the team management, Paddy Upton, Rahul bhai (Dravid) believe in me. So the responsibility to deliver also increases.”

“Being a cricketer everyone wants to perform at whatever position. The way you fulfill the responsibility given to you is important. During practice also I try to work in a way that I can bat at whatever position I am sent in.”

“When I practice I imagine that I am playing in a match situation and imagine that the bowler who I am facing is the one I will be facing in the game and instruct the net bowlers also to bowl accordingly,” he added.

Elaborating on the team environment and the strategies he said, “We look at the process of playing cricket and how we are preparing for it knowing the results will follow. That is what Rahul bhai and Paddy Upton have also been emphasising on. The thought process and how you approach the game, and if you follow and execute the plans then the results follow.”

“My analysis tells me that in T20 where you play 16 games, you win one or two outright and lose one or two outright but the rest of them will be close whether you win or lose. So those who can control their nerves and remain calm will end up on the winning side,” he observed.

“Obliviously we were a bit low after the loss to CSK but I am confident that we will achieve something close to what we did in the first season and we will reach the play-offs. The confidence of the team is high. And if you watch the body language of the team during practice you will notice that the intensity is good and everyone is practicing hard,” he mentioned.

Asked if Shane Watson striking form has helped the team, he replied affirmatively and said, “Shane Watson making a century in T20 in itself is a big achievement and very few can do it and if there is a player like that in a team then fifty percent of the job is taken care off in the batting department.”

“And Watson coming to form and is a biggest positive and that could also be a reason for our high confidence and we are looking forward to where he can take the team,” he added.

Speaking about yet another overseas player, Brad Hodges’ crucial role in the team he said, “Brad Hodge is like an anchor. We have three international players at the top. In between we play domestic players and then again an international player so that helps. The strategy is whether Hodge plays No 5 or 6. If you see, in Bangalore (against RCB) he played up the order. It depends on what the situation demands. He is good in the role of a finisher so he is there at that position, which he is known for.”

Speaking about the team’s preparations he said, “We practice according to the venue we are going to play at. If we are playing on slow pitches then we are working on how well one can maneuver the ball. And if we are playing in Jaipur, it is a good wicket where runs can be chased, then we are playing cricket of the kind we are comfortable with.”

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