Paddy Upton: It was a season of missed opportunities

The Rajasthan Royals head coach admits his team could have done better this season had it handled its key moments better.

Rajasthan Royals lost its last league game to finish on 11 points.   -  AP Photo

Rajasthan Royals crashed out of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Saturday with a five-wicket loss to Delhi Capitals at the Ferozeshah Kotla. According to Paddy Upton, the head coach, the team could have been in a much better position had it had “two or three more results under the belt.”

Speaking to the media after the contest, Upton said, “It’s been disappointing. I almost see it as a season of lost opportunities. We had a really good team. We know some of our senior players would be leaving towards the back end, and we had hoped that we would stack together some good performances and be in a strong position by today. We were without [Jos] Butler, [Ben] Stokes, [Jofra] Archer and [Steve] Smith. We would have liked to have been in a much stronger position maybe if we had had two or three more results under our belt, and we certainly had the opportunities to get those results and we probably in the key moments, handed them back early on. So, it’s been a season of missed opportunities and a bit disappointing, without a doubt.”

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One of the hindrances the side had was in the form of the loss of Steve Smith, its captain. In his absence, Ajinkya Rahane, who had his captaincy taken away from him earlier, assumed the role of captaincy once again. Did Smith’s absence play a role in the defeat?

“It’s very difficult to say whether that had an effect or not. We learnt quite a few lessons from the first few games we played. We were always going to recover and get better from those mistakes. The fact that the team started winning about half way at the same time that we brought Steve Smith in, it may have been coincidental. It’s difficult to look back and say how much of an effect did that have. But we know Steve Smith is a very, very good T20 captain. He’s very busy on the field. Ajinkya Rahane has got a lot on his plate, particularly opening the batting. We are just very happy that we got two people like Rahane and Smith who could step in for each other when required. So, it’s difficult to say and it’s great that Rahane stepped back and took the reigns back after it was taken away from him halfway through,” Upton said.

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The contest could have been even more one-sided had Riyan Parag not scored a defiant half-century for Royals. He stuck through even as wickets fell all around him and took Royals to a total of 115.

“I think it was quite a tricky surface. We thought it would be better to bat first on, but the ball was stopping quite a bit and it was turning quite as well. I think there might have been a few miscalculations but it’s part of the game. If the shots had connected properly, we would have been in a much better situation. But you have got to take the risk, and the result didn’t go our way,” he said.

Commenting on his own cricketing journey, the 17-year-old said, “There have been a lot of ups and downs. The U-19 World Cup was a really high point in my career. And now, playing the IPL for Rajasthan Royals is a different experience altogether. I’m really grateful to God and I’m really grateful to Rajasthan Royals for picking me up.”

He added: “The main goal has always been to play in the senior national team. The U-19 World Cup and the IPL are small steps that lead me to my goal.”