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The Rajasthan Royals are geared up to face the Sunrisers Hyderabad on Saturday at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium. With Shane Watson back amongst runs and able to turn his arm over again, the Royals have received a fresh boost to their confidence. The Australian all-rounder too his happy to be able to bowl again though by his own admission he will require some more time to get into his rhythm.
With a century behind him, the RR opener is more confident of taking the team forward and hoping to contribute to a win. Asked if he was ready to face Dale Steyn in the game ahead. Watson, excited with the prospect and said, “Of course I am up for it. It is always one of the ultimate challenges for an opening batsman, facing Dale Steyn with a brand new ball. He certainly is one of the world’s best fast bowlers and there is no doubt that when he finishes his career he will go down as one of the greatest fast bowler that’s ever played the game. So every time I get the privilege to face Dale Steyn it always is a amazing challenge and that’s is what you want and that’s what I thrive on. Being able to challenge yourself to face the best bowlers in the world and as a bowler challenging yourself against the best batsman in the world and that certainly gets me worked up every single game so I am really looking forward to it.”
While speaking about his bowling, Watson told the media in Jaipur, “It is certainly to be able to help RR, that is for sure. When I first decided not to bowl four months ago the plan was to do my fitness work and strength work throughout the Test series against India and gradually get back into bowling through the IPL and to be able to bowl in the Champions Trophy for Australia and then leading into the Ashes. So it was always the plan. It was a perfect plan in the end for me to be able to come to Rajasthan and gradually get back to bowling and hope to contribute not only with the bat but with ball and to add to the success of Rajasthan Royals. But it is also building up the bowling enough to be able to then bowl throughout the England series.”
Discussing his bowling further which also gives him great joy, Watson elaborated, “I am trying to bowl at a hundred percent but it is not coming out exactly as I want. It is going to take me little while to get my body and get my skill exactly where I want it to be. I am a little bit rusty at times to execute exactly what I want but I always knew that was going to be the case after not bowling for four months. But hopefully it won’t take me too long to be able to get back, to be able execute every ball the way I want. And physically be able to bowl at hundred percent as well. Especially in T20 you have to be hundred percent otherwise you get found out very quickly and you can certainly make a lot of difference to how the outcome of the game pans out. Look I am doing everything I possibly can to prepare my best and hopefully it might not take me too long at all.”
The all-rounder emphasised that he cannot see himself as a bowler or a batsman alone. Speaking about the role he explained, “Being an all-rounder certainly gives you many more opportunities in teams and I suppose for the team balance being an all-rounder definitely means that the team can have a few more different options as the make-up of the side. But for me the most exciting thing about being an all-rounder is knowing that I can hopefully help contribute to the team’s performance whether I am batting or bowling and the way the game works especially in the shorter format of the game, especially in twenty20 cricket you can get out for not many easily and if I am batting that’s the end of my game and then apart from fielding I can’t have any impact on the game whereas being an all-rounder if I don’t score any runs hopefully I can help the team win with my bowling and vice versa. So being an all-rounder you can always hope you can contribute to the team’s performance and that’s what really does excite me.”
However there are challenges to be able to fulfill that role and the player has to go an extra mile to perform in an all-round capacity. “Fitness has been one of the biggest challenges for me. To stay fit because I do put a lot of toll on the body just by trying to get the best out of myself as a batsman but also getting the best out of myself as a bowler. So I am always working very hard on fine tuning both aspects of my game. While growing up I always wanted to be the best fast bowler that I could be and the best batsman that I could be and that’s the time and effort that I have put in to be able to try and do that. It does mean that there is more physical demands on you but that’s also the exciting thing to be able to help contribute to the team’s performances as well,” he added.
Reflecting on the heart breaking loss to twice champions, Chennai Super Kings in their last game despite a superb century from him, he said, “It is disappointing no doubt just to be able to be in the position that we were, whether I score a hundred or not it doesn’t make a difference. it is more for us to be in a position that we were scoring that total batting first against CSK. We knew it was always going to be a challenge against Chennai Super Kings. They are the best team in the competition at the moment and they are playing very well. So taking my innings away from it was just disappointing that we weren’t able to deliver. We were very close to beating the best team in the competition and that’s what we are trying to do as a group, being able to come together, beat the best teams like we did against MI and we were very close to beating CSK as well but unfortunately we just couldn’t get across the line.”
Asked if batting towards the end of the innings was an area of concern, the all-rounder said, “For us to be able to get 180-odd was an amazing effort. There hasn’t been that many high scores in Chennai. There is no doubt that batting in the last five overs is one of the biggest challenges for any batsman coming in and you are expected to go in and try and hit every ball for a six and there are only few batsmen in the world who can come in and do it, but to do that consistently is actually nearly impossible so in the end I think we did very well. Stuart Binny came in and hit the boundary from ball one. I think Stuart Binny did a brilliant job. It is as I said a big challenge to do it from ball one and I think we did an excellent job to post that total anyway.”
While speaking about the Indian Premier League and its benefits for cricketers all over he observed, “There are so many positives for playing here in the IPL. Someone, for example like Glenn Maxwell, to be able to play in a team with Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Harbhajan Singh; with these quality of people he is going to learn a hell of a lot not just about cricket but about life as well. The life experience that he is going to get with that is absolutely invaluable, so I think someone like him is going to get a lot from this experience as well as not just talking cricket and his development as a cricketer. So many positives of being involved in a tournament like this.”
Match 36 – which marks the half-way stage of the league phase of Pepsi IPL 2013 – will feature the Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad.
There is a lot in common with both these teams. Both teams come into this contest having suffered defeats in their previous matches.. Both teams posted competitive totals in their previous matches against CSK, yet could not defend them. While RR could not defend 185, 11 runs in the final over, SRH could not defend 159, 15 in the final over.
Further, both these teams are not among the more fancied teams in the competition – yet they have punched above their weights regularly.
As the tournament enters the second half, both teams will hope to return to their winning ways yet and keep their place among the top four teams in the competition.
Saturday, April 27, 2013, 4 p.m
Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur
The runs scored by the Rajasthan Royals top three – consisting of Shane Watson, Ajinkya Rahane and Rahul Dravid – has a direct bearing on how the team fares. The team has successfully used the ploy of having one, either Rahane or Dravid to drop anchor, allowing the likes of Watson, Stuart Binny and Brad Hodge to go after quick runs. On the bowling front, RR seems to have discovered a gem in James Faulkner; the Australian bowls quick, seems to thrive in pressure conditions, and has picked up wickets in every single match.
With Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the order, SRH have one half of the openers puzzle solved. The southpaw missed the first few games due to injury but timed the ball beautifully in his return to the team. In Dhawan, Cameron White and Thisara Perera, SRH have three players who can win games single-handedly. In the bowling department, Dale Steyn will still be breathing fire after MS Dhoni’s assault on Thursday night. Expect him to come all charged up. Also keep an eye on Amit Mishra (who needs one more wicket to become the leading wicket-taker in the IPL) and Karan Sharma, who bowled beautifully in the match against CSK.
This is the first time these two teams will be meeting. However, the Rajasthan Royals have generally dominated their contests against the Hyderabad franchise. Against the earlier Hyderabad franchise Deccan Chargers, RR has won seven off their 9 matches.
Sunrisers Hyderabad has the best bowling economy rate of all the nine teams competing this season – 6.96.
RR’s James Faulkner has picked up a wicket in each of his last nine T20 matches. He has a tally of 19 wickets in his last nine T20 matches. What Next
The Rajasthan Royals next host table toppers Royal Challengers Bangalore on April 29 while Sunrisers Hyderabad head back home to host the Mumbai Indians on May 1.