Even though Rahul Dravid retired from international cricket last year in March, there seems to be no drop in his obsession and enthusiasm levels.
The Rajasthan Royals skipper, who has had a fantastic season in the Indian Premier League so far, reflects on his team’s journey — from underdogs to tournament favourites, his much-acclaimed captaincy tactics and his attacking batting style this season in an interview to MiD DAY on the sidelines of an event organised by Maxxport SG yesterday.
Cricket my drug…
Cricket is like a drug to me. It has been a part of my life for over two decades. I get my fix through the IPL in two months. So, it is nice to come here, play again and be involved as a player. It has been nice this year.
From unfancied to favourites…
The credit should not go only to me. There are various people involved in this. We have got a really good coaching staff and management. The players themselves have responded really well to the challenges. In terms of our players’ salary as compared to some other big teams, we are spending four times less than them. They have got much bigger squads, mentors and all sorts of coaching staff. We work on much lower budgets, but I think that has forced us to be very smart. As a group, that has forced us to get the best out of ourselves. It has forced us to empower some young Indian talent. We didn’t have a choice to back-up and look at some big stars, so we had to get the best out of the domestic talent we have. We have worked hard on them. We have been very clear on what we need to do and what we need to achieve. It’s been a really big effort so far.
When you are playing against bigger teams that have some renowned players, you are forced to try and be a little bit smart. You mix and match things, and try to have that surprise element. We worked out a few strategies based on the conditions, wickets and we have tried to stick with that.
Also, we felt that the only way we could compete against these bigger teams is by doing things a little bit differently… by surprising them. That’s what we have stuck to and luckily the players have responded really well. We have made a lot of changes to our playing XI. That has helped us in surprising a lot of teams. Most of it was out of necessity as well.
A captain is as good as his team…
I do believe that the captain is as good as his team. The success we have achieved this year is because of the players. You can have all the strategies and tactics in place, but in the end, it is up to the players to execute them.
Everybody knows a yorker is the best delivery in death overs, but if you get it slightly wrong, it goes for a six. So, there is nothing wrong with the tactics and planning. It is all about execution and that is down to players. We have to create the right environment and clarity in roles. If they don’t perform well, you (captain) are not going to look very good.
Admire Dhoni’s calmness
Dhoni has been India’s most successful captain. I played under him and watched him from a distance. I have always admired his calmness and balance irrespective he wins or loses. His own performances under pressure situations have been sensational. He is someone who has done a great job for Indian cricket.
No changes to my batting
I haven’t made any changes this year. This format is a little bit about playing positively and taking your chances. A lot is to do with confidence and
form. Luckily, I was in a good touch early on in the tournament. I was a bit worried leading the side because I had not played cricket for a year. The first two or three games I got a bit of success. I scored a few runs that build my confidence. I am happy with the kind of role I was expected to do in the team.
Mix and match…
I definitely think you can succeed in T20 cricket playing proper cricketing shots. There are roles for different kind of teams. It is about finding the key position for them to play. You cannot find six Shane Watsons or Chris Gayles, so you have to mix and match. That’s been the case especially for us. A lot of other teams have five to six impact players, but we know that we are never going to afford these many impact players.
So, we have to mix and match players which I think allows us to utilise the impact player at the right time and place.
Window for IPL…
There is almost an unofficial window created for the IPL at the moment. There are only one or two countries who play cricket during this time.
Surely in the future there are a lot of England players who I know are very keen to play in the IPL. I am sure they will be putting pressure on their boards to free themselves during this time.
I haven’t looked ahead from here. A year is a long time for someone like me. I am not thinking about the next IPL. At the moment, I am only focused to do well this season.