The captain of Rajasthan Royals, Shane Watson along with his team mates Steven Smith and James Faulkner traveled all the way from Australia to India on Sunday for yet another impending season of Pepsi IPL. After raising the World Cup, the Australian-trio of the Rajasthan Royals are all set to carry forward the spark and set this season of Pepsi IPL on fire with their enchanting performance.
After the Royal-Aussies’ arrival the next day was followed by an eventful Jersey Launch ceremony. The launch of the new Rajasthan Royals’ jersey took place in Mumbai on April 5. There, the press conference consisted of the team’s Mentor himself, Rahul Dravid, Captain Shane Watson and his Australian blokes Steven Smith and James Faulkner and India’s middle-order mainstay Ajinkya Rahane.
“We have match winners all the way unlike in the past. To me that’s very exciting for the IPL season. With the quality we have, the most important thing is to get off to a good start. We have to hit the ground running and with the quality of players we have I think we will do it,” said Watson in the press conference.
The team squad for the entire season of Pepsi IPL inclues Shane Watson(c), Steven Smith, James Faulkner, Tim Southee, Ajinkya Rahane, Abhishek Nayar, Ankit Nagendra Sharma, Ben Cutting, Deepak Hooda, Dhawal Kulkarni, Dishant Yagnik, Karun Nair, Pravin Tambe, Rahul Tewatia, Rajat Bhatia, Sanju Samson(wk), Stuart Binny, Vikramjeet Malik, Chris Morris, Juan Theron, Barinder Singh Saran, Dinesh Salunkhe, Sagar Trivedi, Pardeep Sahu.
The current squad includes Tim Southee, the Kiwi pacer who played in the World Cup finals against Australia. Four overseas players played the World Cup final are a part of Rajasthan Royals’ team.
Watson also praised the young lad Ajinkya Rahane who had played against him over the last four months. “Ajinkya batted incredibly well in the Australian summer and since last IPL. It was incredible to watch. He’s got time to play shots and showed a wide range of shots even in Australian conditions where there is pace and bounce. He’s a crucial batsman in our batting line up. It should be a great season for him.”
After being questioned about the attack of short-ball bouncers from Pakistan’s Wahab Riaz, Watson said he is not looking forward to see any such spells against him and considered himself lucky to survive that in the World Cup Quarter-finals. “I am not keen on facing that type of bowling. In IPL we have lot of world class fast bowlers, for example Mitch Johnson who we will come up against in Pune in our first match. He’s a big challenge to face. There are world class fast bowlers all around though Wahab may not be there. I had a bit of luck along the way against Wahab,” said Watson.
Ajinkya Rahane who said he is impressed with Steve Smith’s performance said “I am really happy for Smithy for what he did for Australia last summer. I enjoyed watching his bating and learnt a lot as opposition and am glad he’s playing for Rajasthan Royals”
According to Steve Smith, there’s no such trouble in switching from an ODI format to a T20, the modern day players are used to it. “You go from one format to another. For me, Shane and Jimmy the key is in getting used to the conditions over the next couple of days here and getting ready for the first game.” He also added “Test cricket is pinnacle and I do enjoy playing all formats. Here it’s about getting used to the bounce of the wicket. Hopefully it won’t be long,”
The team would surely miss to play at their own fortress this year in Jaipur but they have now got used to playing in Ahmedabad says team mentor Rahul Dravid. “We consider Ahmedabad and Bombay (Mumbai) as home. Obviously we miss the Jaipur ground with which we are familiar with. But even last year a lot of us went into Ahmedabad quite cold after playing in Dubai and it felt like playing all 14 games away. We are used to the conditions at Ahmedabad and at the CCI here.”
“Our team is balanced and strong. We have all rounders like Watson, Faulkner, Dhawal (Kulkarni) and Southee but in the IPL all eight teams are strong. But we need to perform in high intensity games and whichever team does that well wins.” Rahul said to the reporters.
According to the former captain of Rajasthan Royals, Dravid said it would take time to settle the high of the World cup for the players and adjust into the IPL fever. “It’s not easy for a lot of guys in our team. The World Cup was an emotional roller coaster ride and it’s a huge and tough event to be part of. But there are other teams too having players who participated in the World Cup and are having a long season. It’s a challenge for lot of IPL teams to manage that.”
Dravid is all convinced about the current format of the IPL. “It’s a tough competition. Fourteen games are good enough to identify the top four teams and anything more than this will become a lot (difficult). Was just talking to Smithy. Australia had a tiring World Cup and from here they go to West Indies and then to the Ashes. They will be away for six months.”