We don't mind being called 'underdogs' - says Rajasthan Royals mentor Rahul Dravid
Rajasthan Royals are arguably one of the most well-balanced teams of IPL 2014. They have unearthed many hitherto unknown domestic talents over the season. With another couple of wins, RR will confirm their spot for the play offs this season.
Despite emerging victorious in the first season of the IPL and entering the semi-final stage several times post that, RR have been referred to as the 'underdogs'.
However, ex-skipper Rahul Dravid, who is the chief mentor for RR this year, has revealed that his team is not perturbed by the term. "If you look at our team on paper, you would call us underdogs ... because we don't have those stars. But we don't mind the tag. It does not bother us anymore. We know every team is a good team and we have to perform. We don't think too far ahead," he said.
Unlike other teams, RR relies on its uncapped players for the success of its team. The former Indian captain highlighted the importance of domestic talent in the team and said, "We get different people to perform. We don't rely on a few stars. People who play against us know that we will always fight. We might not win every game, but we will always fight and compete. We will get the best out of our talent. I think that is something that you could classify as RR, and probably call it the RR brand of cricket."
The 41-year-old Dravid took over the reins from Shane Warne in 2012 to captain RR. In the same year, Dravid, fondly known as the 'Wall of Cricket', became the highest run-getter for his team. When asked about how different the role of a coach is from that of a skipper, he said, "The pressure is lot less because I don't captain the team. It is about strategy and planning. It involves working with the likes of Paddy Upton, Zubin Bharucha and Monty Desai, and trying to create a good environment for the players so that they get what they need."
"And in the end, they have to do their job to perform in the middle. So we just try and create a good environment and give them a chance to perform and play at their best. And we do a lot of the planning and preparation for them, so they have enough information when they go into the game. It gives them the best chance to succeed," he added.
Taking into consideration the brevity of the T20 format of the game, Dravid stressed on the clarity of roles for each player in the team and stated, "Roles are important. We sit down with players at the start of every season and tell them why they are in this team and what we think their roles would be. Of course, there needs to be a certain amount of flexibility, but still we explain to them where exactly they might be batting and bowling and what they should practice and how we feel they should practice."
"So at least we are giving them that information about what their roles might be in this team and how they should go about executing those roles. And then it is up to them; they have to do the difficult part, which is executing the skills," the right-handed batsman said.
Contrary to modern day team strategy of instructing the players of their role in the last minute, the Bangalore born Dravid admitted that he does not believe in instructing players right before they step into the field.
"If you try telling people something at the last moment, you know you have lost them. Last moment is not meant to say anything but to just keep quiet and let them do what they want. A lot of the preparation happens a lot before. On the day of the game, honestly, we don't do much. We just let people be and let them play their game." Dravid said.
"If they have prepared well and practiced well and if they feel confident about their game and they have got clear plans, clear roles and clear strategies, they will go out there and be able express themselves. You can't give pep talks. I personally don't believe in pep talks and speeches and those things. We don't do any of that here. If anyone needs a pep talk and speech at the last minute, well then he is at the wrong place," he attached.
When asked about his perspective on the changes that are taking place in IPL, the courageous and bold Dravid said, "It's a fantastic tournament. There is tough competition. Every side is tough. Even though some of the teams are not winning as much, there are some very good players in them. Every game is tough and you have to be well prepared and switch on for every contest, because if you are not, you could easily be beaten."
When asked to speak about Shane Watson's captaincy, Dravid said, "I don't think you need to groom Watto. I think he's been a fantastic captain. Both on and off the field, he has been superb. He connects really well even with the Indian boys. He obviously connects with the overseas players.”
"But I am impressed with the way he has connected with so many of the Indian players. He is obviously very respected. He is very approachable. People feel very relaxed around him. And on the field as well, tactically he has been very good. So I think he has been a really good captain and the results have shown." he concluded.