Hoping for another fairytale

A young Rajasthan Royals sidewill bank on Rahul Dravid for inspiration.-K.R. DEEPAK

The erudite Rahul Dravid is missing in the television commentary team while India and Australia face-off in a one-sided Test series. However, for Rajasthan Royals, Dravid’s current absence in the sound-waves is welcome news indeed as the management is aware that its captain is spending his time judiciously, working on his cricket and training hard for the rigours of the Twenty20 game.

Meanwhile Shane Warne, the original leader, the man who guided the squad to a fairytale run and an eventual trophy triumph in the inaugural edition in 2008, is busy doing commentary and wringing his hands while Australia slump from one defeat to another. The spin legend lent a certain mystique to the team in its early years but sadly Royals never regained its stratospheric heights and has become just another squad in the league.

Performance has dipped and from a success percentage of 78.09 in 2008, Royals scraped through the 40s in the subsequent years and marginally rose in 2012 to notch a winning yield of 55 per cent. Add to it the financial woes and court cases that plagued the owners in 2010 and the uncertainty over whether Jaipur can host the home games this season (which thankfully was resolved), and it became increasingly clear that the Royals had to cope with many factors before walking into the field.

Dravid surely has an onerous task on hand. He has to guide the team and put it back on track. Having retired from international cricket, the skipper will also have to dive into his inner reserves as he aims to rewind the clock and lend strength and fluidity to a bunch of players, who look up to him. Men like Shane Watson and Ajinkya Rahane hold the key in batting. For Watson, whose exploits for the Royals in 2008 paved his comeback to the then Australian team, the latest season offers another challenge. Having been summarily axed for the Mohali Test on disciplinary issues, the Australian all-rounder will surely look at using his stint with the Royals to prove that he is still a game-changer. As far as a benchmark for discipline is concerned, he need not look beyond Dravid.

Amidst the bowlers, S. Sreesanth, who is wending his way back from injuries, will surely evoke interest. His form, fitness and mood-swings will all be monitored by the powers-that-be while he chases another comeback dream. Among the rest, Royals does have an interesting mix in Shaun Tait, Fidel Edwards, Samuel Badree and Brad Hogg. Most importantly, the team that proved the old adage — the sum is bigger than the parts — in 2008, needs to embrace that can-do spirit all over again.

K. C. Vijaya Kumar