Everyone loves Rajasthan Royals, even the fans of the opposition teams. You know why? Because they are the eternal underdogs. Right from the time they lost their first game in the inaugural edition of IPL, they remained underdogs. Even after winning the tournament and creating a fortress at home from the very first edition, they continued being tagged the underdogs and today after a very successful IPL 6, where they have almost made it to the playoffs, have won all their matches at home, beaten Chennai in their own game, they are still being called the underdogs.
Why are they underdogs? Simple, they never had huge stars except one or two. They created stars who made their destiny and fielded guys who came from the hinterlands with dreamy eyes of shining on the big stage. They were underdogs because they were the cheapest side to be bought during the auctions in 2008. They were underdogs because they look to be working more hard on their fallacies than anyone else.
They were underdogs because they did not get hyper on the cricket ground. They always smile at the opposition and go about their job methodically rather than aggressively. They know that aggression cannot work in their favor considering they do not possess the likes of Gayle and Kohli, so they’d rather focus on hardwork and technique to control the outcome.
The Real Difference Creators
1. Rahul ‘Gentleman’ Dravid: If there was one good example of a great servicemen of the game who always upheld the spirit of the game no matter what, Rahul Dravid’s name would come foremost. Remember what he did when Adam Gilchrist was short of his ground a few days back. He withdrew the appeal, thereby setting an example for his team. Though Dravid might not be as celebrated as a Sachin Tendulkar or a Sourav Ganguly, we all know who was the worker behind all great victories India had in the last decade and a half. This is what RD probably is ingraining in Rajasthan Royals. To win but remain nonchalant about it. Plus, the amount of trust he shows in his youngsters is something that would turn an example for any future captain in IPL. We know Sanju Samson because a Rahul Dravid made him a superstar, picking him up from nowhere. As Harsha Bhogle always says, “It is the process which matters the most, if that’s taken care of, the results take care of itself”. Rahul Dravid seems to embody this thought.
2. Shane ‘Watto’ Watson: As I write this one, am hearing that Watson has overtaken Chris Gayle in the Most Valuable Player in the IPL. With very little to go in the tournament and Watson himself being in great form, I would not be surprised if he actually pulls that off. Now that in itself is some achievement because IPL if anything is known for Gaylestorm and to beat that man in his own arena is a genius’s job. Watson brilliance lies not only in the fact that he is a great player from Australia but also in the manner he plays alongside the juniors around him in the Royals side. Probably playing first under Shane Warne and now under Dravid is helping his attitude immensely. He brings to the table extraordinary skills and am sure playing around him would be an academy for the youngsters of the side. Lastly, if he plays anywhere as good as he did in the last match, only God save the opposition from the harakiri this big guy can bring.
3. The Bowling Attack: We often talk of how a batting unit has helped RR win the first edition and has helped them this year too to almost reach the playoffs (I am sure they will but am just not taking a risk). What we forget more often than not is that it is the bowling that actually without the presence of any big star pulled off what many teams in IPL could not with big names. Not that RR never had a great bowling attack. In the first season names like Shane Warne, Sohail Tanvir and Munaf Patel (he was a decent enough bowler then) did don their jersey but as time passed, these names went away and in came a fragrance of youth and they did well we must say. Just take yesterday’s match for example. Against CSK who have the most devastating batting line-up, the bowlers were Malik, Faulkner, Watson, Trivedi, Cooper and Binny. What did they do? made Chennai fold up for 141. This is no one-off, its a regular feature now that this bowling attack sans any superstars does to opposition. They are probably taken for granted and from there they show everyone who is the boss. Probably again being underdogs helps challenges them to do their best.
4. The Fortress That Cannot Be Breached: The team has now actually equalled their own record of highest home wins at a trot (8). It is something about the place that aids the home team like no other ground. In the last game against CSK the challenge was stiff. They were pitted against a tough team and Chennai’s record was simple, you give them to bat first and they don’t lose. Knowing this fully well, Dravid still allowed Dhoni and his men first usage of the helpful wicket at Sawai Man Singh Stadium and the result is for all to know. Teams would be thanking their stars that none of the qualifiers or the final is at Jaipur or else only one team would have come out on top.
With their non-violent style of cricket, this team has already made rapid progress. The next task would be to end the league stage on top and make a clear statement that this team can dazzle and well as be consistent. If they win this would be an additional jewel in the crown of The Eternal Gentleman Rahul Dravid.