IPL 2012

Dravid leads stronger batting unit

Tariq Engineer

April 3, 2012

Comments: 55 | Text size: A | A

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Rahul Dravid and Shilpa Shetty at the unveiling of Rajasthan Royals' new jersey, Mumbai, March 5, 2012
Rahul Dravid will lead Rajasthan Royals after retiring from international cricket © AFP
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The key to Rajasthan Royals' 2012 season will be how they handle the transition at the head of the team. Shane Warne, their inspirational captain and face of the franchise, retired. The man who succeeded Warne is a cricket icon of equal standing but of different temperament. Warne was loud, aggressive and loved being the centre of attention. Rahul Dravid is quiet, restrained and simply goes about his business.

What the two have in common though is the ability to lead by example and a deep knowledge of the game. Now that Dravid has retired from international cricket the IPL is his sole cricketing focus, and if anyone can manage the change in culture with as few hiccups as possible, it will be him.

Last season was a mixed bag for the Royals, who started strongly and were in contention for a place in the playoffs before fading towards the end. A controversy over the pitch at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium, which resulted in the disciplining of Warne, was a distraction, but the side's slide exposed the lack of depth in their batting. To the Royals' credit, they have gone some way to address that weakness with the additions of Brad Hodge, Owais Shah and Dinesh Chandimal, who can double up as wicketkeeper and might prove to be the steal of the 2012 player auction.

The loss of Warne will also be felt by the bowling attack, and the team will be hoping Brad Hogg, who had success in the Big Bash and the Bangladesh Premier League, can at least partially fill the void. Sreesanth potentially bolsters the seam department, but he hasn't played competitive cricket for six months and is unpredictable.

Key players

Johan Botha was a revelation up the order in 2011 and his unexpected form with the bat was crucial to the Royals' early success. He also opened the bowling to great effect and the team will need more of the same from him to compete this year.

Warne was one of two players retained by the Royals in 2011. The other was Shane Watson. The Australia allrounder will only arrive at the end of April, after the tour of the West Indies, but if the Royals can get off to a good start in his absence, Watson could provide a crucial late spark to help them qualify for the playoffs.

Big names in

The Royals bought Chandimal, Sri Lanka's newest batting sensation, for only $50,000 at the auction. They needed a wicketkeeper who can bat and they got him cheap. Chandimal's ability and consistency was on show in the recent triangular series in Australia and he should add steel to the Royals middle order.

Big names out

Ross Taylor, the team's self-described "finisher", was traded to Delhi Daredevils on the last day of the trading window. Taylor had a decent tournament in 2011 without producing anything special, and the franchise quickly found a replacement in Shah.

Below the radar

A transformed Stuart Binny was Karnataka's go-to man in the Ranji Trophy last season as the allrounder reaped the benefits of a new attitude and a commitment to fitness. He made 742 runs at an average of 67.45 and a strike rate of 83.46. He also took 20 wickets at an average of 20.10. If Binny can bring the same attitude to the IPL, the Royals might not miss Watson as much during the first half of the tournament.

Availability

Australia's ongoing tour of the West Indies means Watson is unavailable until the Test series ends on April 27.

Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (April 6, 2012, 12:30 GMT)

Chandimal for only 50k? i feel for the youngster.

Posted by   on (April 6, 2012, 11:09 GMT)

Big names don't count.. It is the team spirit and having a team player like Dravid to guide them Royals will make history this IPL !

Posted by   on (April 6, 2012, 4:53 GMT)

srikanth35297..dravid better t20 player than sachin..u must be kidding.//sach avg 40 in ipl n has over 1700 runs./n dravid with more matches has over 1200 runs with a medicore avg of 27..sach strike rate is also better....

Posted by   on (April 5, 2012, 17:55 GMT)

Chandimal is the best player in that teAM

Posted by   on (April 5, 2012, 9:43 GMT)

M supporting RR bcoz of Rahul Dravid...........he is such a classy batsman to see him n cheer for him!!!!!!! i wanna see him lifting the cup and giving a hard rock solidity towards all the critics....

Sachin, ganguly, dhoni, sehwag, gilly, gauti, beware of Dravid!!!!!

Dravid will surely rule this IPL!!!!

Posted by shaannnnnn on (April 5, 2012, 6:59 GMT)

bored to hear about dravid and tendulkar. sombody stop this!!!

Posted by srikanth35297 on (April 5, 2012, 5:08 GMT)

@haeloos: mind your words .....whom are u speaking abt ? THE GREAT WALL. he has don every role....he kept wickets....he batted in various positions...he was the one who took india to safety in precarious positon...how dare u say he is a liability to the team?

Posted by srikanth35297 on (April 5, 2012, 5:03 GMT)

@astoush tripathi: u are talking of a person who has scored more than 25000 runs in cricket.he is better t20 player than tendulkar. he has 2nd fastest 50 by an indian and scored 75 of 27 balls in ipl. he is selfless person,great individual and sacrifices everything for the team. he has won many odi matches and how dare u say he is a liability to the team? infact sachin is a big liability to the team.he neither score runs nor go out. speaking of capitaincy he has lead india to record 22 chases, where as sachin capaitancy record is the worst.

Posted by   on (April 4, 2012, 18:20 GMT)

dravid should have never played...t20..he may get one quick inng. here n there but overall he will be a liability..look what happened when he was with rcb...he was first cpt n then removed..i fear the same may happen this time...he is just good for test...even in odi he was a liability..indian team started winning more odi matches once he retired...

Posted by   on (April 4, 2012, 12:26 GMT)

What ever team Dravid plays for, I am a fan of that team. Want to see RR lift the trophy under Dravid. I dont like missing out an opportunity where i can see Dravid bat.

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