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The Rajasthan Royals are currently placed third in the Pepsi IPL 2014 points table and they will be looking to strengthen their position with a win over the Mumbai Indians on May 19 in Ahmedabad. The Shane Watson-led side has pulled off some exciting wins to keep themselves in the top half of the points table as they attempt to win another title.
They won’t be experimenting with the line-up when they take on the Mumbai Indians in their last home game of the season. While addressing the media ahead of the match, RR’s Kane Richardson said, “No experiments; we are after a win. The way the points table is looking, the Kolkata Knight Riders are a threat as well. So for us, it is about getting that win to get us through to the playoffs. And it will be nice to do it this game.”
“If you do that kind of stuff (experiment to test their bench strength), you set yourself up for bad luck. You have to make sure you win. If your team has qualified for the finals, you can think about stuff like that. Everyone who plays, there is a reason why they are playing. Whichever 11 are there tomorrow, there is a reason why they have been picked.”
“Obviously, the Mumbai Indians haven’t had the tournament that they would liked, but they are still a dangerous team. Hopefully, we can take care of business and keep off the pressure from the last two games,” he said.
“You have to give respect to the Mumbai Indians; they are a dangerous team and they will want to finish the tournament well. So if we get two points, we will be fine,” he added.
Discussing his own team and the way they have finished their games, he remarked that the batting line-up, and especially the lower-order, inspires confidence. While talking about the significance of finishers in the top teams like RR, CSK and KXIP, he said, “Every team has their finishers. RCB’s Yuvraj Singh and AB de Villiers are some of the best. Steve Smith and James Faulkner, the way they played against RCB, gave everyone a lot of confidence, given the way they pulled off that game in Bangalore. If we are in a similar position again, we know that after them we have Rajat Bhatia. Kevon Cooper showed while batting at No.3 what he can do; if he has to bat at No.8 or 9, he can do the same thing. Hopefully, the batsmen always do their job. But it’s nice to have people come in and bat like that lower down the order.”
When asked about the influence of Rahul Dravid, Richardson said that the team mentor has played a very important role in their performance. “During the game, he is out on the bench. When he is out, he is talking to players. He is one of nicest people I have met. It is showing in how we are playing our cricket – staying nice and calm and consistent. Rahul and Paddy Upton are quite similar and that kind of shows in the way he is mentoring us and the way we are playing our cricket. The way Karun Nair and Sanju Samson are progressing, it is thanks to Rahul. The things he has done for the franchise have been unbelievable.”
“When he talks, you listen. The younger players, the younger Indians especially, the work he has done for them shows once they are in the team, as they play and perform. Rahul has been amazing for them.”
Speaking about the team’s consistent performance over the last two seasons, he said, “It is my first year with them, but every year that I have watched them, I have known RR to be the underdogs and they have always performed. Hopefully, we can get another win and go through. This year has been a funny one; we have won a lot of games we probably shouldn’t have. The game against KKR here, the match against RCB in Bangalore – if we had lost those games, we would have been on the edge. It just shows the fighting spirit of the team and guys like me, Steven Smith and Ben Cutting, who are new to the team. The blokes who are new are performing as well and showing that spirit. Everyone in the squad believes in each other.”
As Pepsi Indian Premier League 2014 approaches its business end, probabilities and mathematical calculations take centre stage with multiple teams looking to stay in contention for the Playoffs. The Mumbai Indians are one such side that will depend heavily on other teams’ net run-rates and outcomes to make it past the league stage. Currently placed second-last on the points table, MI’s chances are slim, and hence, they will look to win their remaining four games comprehensively.
The team has been practicing under the watchful eyes of their coaches and mentors over the last couple of days in Ahmedabad as they look to turn their situation around.
Speaking to the media ahead of their match against Rajasthan Royals, MI’s Corey Anderson reiterated the same thought. “It definitely would be tense and a pressure situation. Every match from here is important; it’s an easy equation and we have to win everything. A few things have to go our way as well. But if the rest of the games go our way, then hopefully, few things will fall in place, and I guess, the Playoffs are still an option.”
The one department that needs to click for MI is their batting. Their line-up will be facing Pravin Tambe and co. in Ahmedabad on Monday afternoon. When asked about their strategy to counter the leg-spinner, who has been posing questions to batsmen across the league, Anderson said, “We have got our own strategies. A lot of sides have good leg-spinners in their ranks. A lot of boys are floating around and have been doing a really good job for their teams this year. We have similar strategies for them. And a few of them, we are facing for the first time as well. We have quality spinners in our line-up also, who can help us out.”
Speaking about the team, he added, “The way Twenty20 games go, sometimes some guys come off and some don’t. On the bowling front, we have been pretty good, and with the batting, we could have done a little better in different situations. But sometimes, it takes one guy to have a good game and win. It is ifs and buts. But at the moment, we are going to focus on the next four games, and hopefully, get wins.”
One of the key bowlers for MI has been Lasith Malinga, who has been called up to his national side and will be missed by the Rohit Sharma-led team. Discussing the absence of the fast bowler, Anderson mentioned, “For any side it is a huge space to fill. Whoever takes the role, I am sure they will do a good job. We know our plans. We are starting to get into the latter stage of the tournament now. Whoever comes in, I hope they do a good job.”
Speaking about his own experience of playing in the IPL, he said, “It’s like nothing I have experienced before. The crowds are loud and it is a great atmosphere. To play against some of the best players from different countries is a good experience. It has been a good experience, and hopefully, it gets better if we can win the next games.”