Since the spot-fixing controversy broke out last week, Rajasthan Royals has played a couple of games — both against Sunrisers Hyderabad. The first match was less than 48 hours after the arrest of S. Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan, but, as RR had already sealed its spot in the playoffs, it didn’t carry much significance for the side’s prospects in the tournament.
Fast-forward to Wednesday, and the stakes had risen immeasurably. Pepsi IPL-VI’s first knockout match was going to test RR severely, and it did. But Rahul Dravid’s boys sneaked through to Qualifier-II with a four-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad, any doubts regarding the team’s mental shape dispelled convincingly.
Looking back, RR’s skipper gave a sneak-peek into the side’s difficult recovery from the “blow.”
“I’ll not lie, it was very tough. I’ve never experienced anything like it. It’s like bereavement in some ways. You feel sadness, disappointment, anger. Everyone was in a daze, really,” he said.
After the final group match, RR returned to Jaipur and didn’t arrive in Delhi until Tuesday night.
“The two days that we had in Jaipur were fantastic. There was some really open, honest conversation amongst the players and coaching staff. A lot of emotion was shared, and in some ways it was amazing for me to see the way cricketers came out and expressed their feelings,” Dravid said.
“We zeroed our focus in on just this game. I thought we planned it well, but it was a difficult week for all of us and I can’t thank the support staff — Paddy (Upton) and his team and everyone around the Rajasthan Royals — enough for the way they have managed these last four days.”
Dravid also praised the side’s Director of Cricket, Zubin Bharucha, and assistant coach, Monty Desai.
“They are our unsung heroes. They work behind the scenes with a lot of our younger players and add so much value to the side,” he said.
“I’d like to believe that the youngsters feel pretty comfortable because there’s not a lot of pressure. We don’t have big stars, so there are not a lot of people breathing down their necks. We have given them a lot of freedom and a lot of clarity on roles,” added Dravid, while lauding the team environment.