Rajasthan Royals Mentor Rahul Dravid insisted on Thursday that his team has not played poor cricket in the ongoing Indian Premier League barring one game against Royal Challengers Bangalore when they were restricted to a paltry score of 130.
“We started well by winning five games on the trot. Then two of our games got rained out and we lost two games (against Sun Risers Hyderabad and Chennai Super Kings). We have not played badly barring the one game against RCB when we made 130. The others were lost narrowly and or via the super over (against Kings XI Punjab),” said Dravid, at the announcement of Royals’ new social initiative, ‘Bat for the Girl Child.’
Royals are currently placed fourth on the IPL table with 14 points and a game against defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders in hand at the Brabourne Stadium on May 16, which is a must-win game for the Jaipur franchise.
Dravid said he and his teammates would be rooting for a win for Mumbai Indians on Thursday against KKR.
“We will support Mumbai Indians today,” said the former India captain and batting stalwart.
Dravid was full of praise for the incredible shot-making of AB de Villiers that he exhibited for RCB against MI on Sunday last while making 133 not out in just 59 balls.
“Even in best of form, I could not imagine to play that way. He and Brendon McCullum are showing the way ahead for the youngsters. The game is going ahead. Viv Richards (West Indies great) first showed how to attack and then (Sanath) Jayasuriya and (Romesh) Kaluwitharana (of Sri Lanka) showed how to bat in the first 15 overs of an ODI,” he said.
Calling for more balance between the bat and the ball, Dravid supported the idea of allowing bowlers to deliver two bouncers per over even in T20 games.
“Currently, if a bowler bowls a bouncer off the first ball of an over, the batsmen can attack him as they know he cannot bowl another bouncer in that over. Even in T20s two bouncers per over should be allowed. The boundary length should also be increased to redress the balance,” said Dravid.
Citing Virender Sehwag’s example, Dravid said that the out-of-favour opener played in the same manner across all formats.
“Viru plays the same way in all formats,” Dravid said.
Dravid said players like De Villiers and New Zealand skipper McCullum possess the gift of adapting their game in varied formats as per the needs.
“In Test cricket, the wicket conditions are different. There are situations when you have to bat to save the game. Both De Villiers and Brendon McCullum are able to adapt their game to the different formats which is what great players do,” he explained.
Asked whether he would prefer an Indian or a foreigner to become the new coach of the national team following the exit of Zimbabwean Duncan Fletcher, Dravid said the person’s nationality did not matter.
“The world is becoming more professional with passage of time. Indians go abroad to take up coaching jobs and similarly foreign nationals come to India for the same reason. Whoever is the most suitable for the job should be given the chance (to coach India),” he said.
‘Pietersen saga will put pressure on Cook, Strauss’
England skipper Alastair Cook and his former teammate Andrew Strauss will face intense pressure during the upcoming Ashes battle with Australia over the decision to ignore the claims of Kevin Pietersen for a Test recall, former India captain Rahul Dravid said on Thursday.
“It was strange and disappointing to see Pietersen being told he will not be given an opportunity to play for England. This decision will bring more pressure on Cook and (new England director of cricket) Strauss during the (July-August) Ashes,” said Dravid.
“If England win the Ashes, then it will be fine, but if they lose this (episode) is not going to die down,” the Rajasthan Royals team mentor said at the launch of a new social initiative aimed at empowering the girl child.
Pietersen was told by Strauss hours after cracking an unbeaten triple hundred for Surrey in a county game that he will not be considered for England in the immediate future.
The player, sacked in 2013 after the 5-0 whitewash of England in Australia, had been told earlier by the England and Wales Board’s chairman Colin Graves to ignore IPL riches and prove his worth in English county cricket for a Test recall.
Former England woman cricketer of Indian origin, Isa Guha, saw “miscommunication” from both sides.
“It has not been handled well by both sides. There has been a miscommunication. But I would love KP to play for England,” said Guha who is doing TV commentary in the IPL.
“It (Pietersen saga) has been going on for 2-3 years. There is a lot of baggage there. They (ECB and team) seem to have decided to move on. It’s sad there is so much focus on KP though there are fine young players like Joe Root, Garry Ballance and others.
“Like Rahul said, it will put a lot of pressure on England. I just hope English cricket can come out on the other side,” said the 29-year-old Buckinghamshire-born Isa.
For their initiative ‘Bat for the Girl Child’, Royals have pledged 2 per cent of the annual profits of the company for the current financial year towards the cause.
Two NGOs, Educate Girls and Aaangan, are beneficiaries of the funding while Royals have tied up with British Asian Trust as the social cause’s implementation partner.