IPL 2012 April 3, 2012

Dravid leads stronger batting unit

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Big picture

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on April 6, 2012, 12:30 GMT

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

  • 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 !

  • 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....

  • on April 5, 2012, 17:55 GMT

    Chandimal is the best player in that teAM

  • 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!!!!

  • shaannnnnn on April 5, 2012, 6:59 GMT

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

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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...

  • 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.

  • on April 6, 2012, 12:30 GMT

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

  • 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 !

  • 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....

  • on April 5, 2012, 17:55 GMT

    Chandimal is the best player in that teAM

  • 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!!!!

  • shaannnnnn on April 5, 2012, 6:59 GMT

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

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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...

  • 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.

  • on April 4, 2012, 12:11 GMT

    havent anyone seen dravid 50 of 22 balls a record in odi, 75 of 27 bal. in IPL

  • veerakannadiga on April 4, 2012, 10:08 GMT

    My loyalities shifted from RCB to RR once Rahul Dravid started playing for RR. He was always the best Indian player in all the 2 formats he played. In his one & only T20 game, he has silenced his critics. Those with a brain full of holes, assume that the Wall has holes. I do not care if RR wins or not, I will keep supporting RR till the Great Dravid plays for them.

  • Haleos on April 4, 2012, 6:18 GMT

    Dravid is a pointless selection for T20. His style was best for vintage test cricket. In ODI he was a liability as well. dont look at the number of runs he scored. He was a poor runner with pathetic strike rate. RR are going to have hard time if their captain is a wall with tons of holes. He may play a inning of two with a strike rate of 200 but that is it. RR is my second fav team but sad to see they take someone like Dravid let alone making him captain the side.

  • on April 4, 2012, 6:12 GMT

    missing shane warne a lot......i hope rajasthan will cope with HIS absence.

  • ab_cricket on April 4, 2012, 5:38 GMT

    Rahane should be the shining star. I'll put my money on him.

  • hotcric01 on April 4, 2012, 4:42 GMT

    Although Rajasthan haven't more big starts,they have a superb group of talented players who can fire at any moment.It is always better than "group of super stars" who are not at best in the necessary moments. Brad hogg may be a challenge for all batsmen.1.Dravid 2.Rahane 3.Botha 4.Hodge 5.Chandimal 6.Maneria 7.A.Raut 8.B.Hogg 9.S.Binny 10.Trivedi 11.Pankaj singh This is the most suitable combination.

  • class9ryan on April 4, 2012, 4:34 GMT

    My picks when every1 is available - 1.Dravid 2.Watson 3.Rahane 4.Owais Shah/Brad Hodge 5.Ashok Menaria 6. Stuart Binny 7. Botha 8. Pinal/Shreevats 9.Cooper/Tait/Hogg 10.Trivedi 11.Sreesanth

  • on April 4, 2012, 3:47 GMT

    My pick for the Royals this season would go as: Dravid, Rahane, Menaria, Raut, Sreesanth, Binny, Trevedi,Chandimal, Watson/Shah, Botha, Hodge. ^Trust me this is the winning combination.

  • satish619chandar on April 4, 2012, 3:36 GMT

    One simple reason i would rate RR to be not among the bigger teams is, they miss Warne.. The team was selected for Warne where he prefers talent over stars and uses them effectively.. He is a gambler and knows how to use and when to use.. Whereas, Dravid is a traditional guy and will lack the same kind of tricks Warne used to use.. I doubt how effectively Dravid can use this team.. I would keenly watch Rahane here.. He didn't get much chances last time but he is now a player who tasted international cricket and is now in bench.. This IPL will be a stepping stone for him and he need to back it with performance.. And, they got Hogg too.. Really happy to see him back.. Botha and Hogg will be a great attack to have..

  • on April 4, 2012, 3:11 GMT

    Shakti Gauchan was needed be be selected. Then the team would be strong

  • on April 4, 2012, 1:28 GMT

    Include new lefthand leg spiner who is now in training camp from Nepal. Shakti P Gauchan

  • JKSFB on April 3, 2012, 22:22 GMT

    With all due respect, this is probably one of the weaker teams in the IPL. But I guess that has nothing to do with how successful the team will be. As we saw in season 1, team work and all rounders matter more than stars. Dravid has always performed adequately in the IPL and he will need to do the same - play the same role that Kallis and Sachin play for their teams...Really, the onus is on the younger Indian players in the RR team if they want to make a big impression

  • on April 3, 2012, 20:55 GMT

    sreesanth couls be the winning point fr royals!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Soutik on April 3, 2012, 20:31 GMT

    PINAL SHAH,A RAHANE,R DRAVID,COLLINGWOOD,OWISH SHAH,JOHAN BOTHA,ASHOK MANERIA,A RAUT,SHAUN TAIT,SIDDHARTH TRIVEDI,SREESANTH 12TH MAN:STUART BINNY

  • FAB_ALI on April 3, 2012, 16:54 GMT

    Rahane, Watson, Chandimal, Dravid, Hodge, Fazal, Menaria, Botha, Sreesanth, Trivedi & Pankaj Singh. Good way to go!!!

  • FAB_ALI on April 3, 2012, 16:50 GMT

    @Rally_Windies... Oh man! have you been watching IPL? Shakib Al Hasan has already played a full season of IPL4 with KKR and will continue with them this year also.

  • on April 3, 2012, 16:36 GMT

    For 1st half the RR team should be like that- 1.Dravid 2.Rahane 3.Botha 4.Hodge 5.Chandimal(WK) 6.Maneria 7.Binny 8.Sumit Narwal/ Amit Singh 9.Pankaj Singh 10.Tait 11. Sreesanth Siddartha Trivedi should not get a chance....he is below level. Rather Deepak Chahar and Samad Fallah should get a chance. If Chandimal is not picked then Pinal Shah/S.Goswami should get a chance and experienced Owais Shah should play.

  • on April 3, 2012, 15:56 GMT

    No IPL fantasy this time? can anyone suggest me good site to play apart from super selector.

  • bigdhonifan on April 3, 2012, 15:43 GMT

    @Deepesh Mathur where is Dravid dude???

  • SagarRoongta on April 3, 2012, 15:26 GMT

    My pick for the team: 1. Watson 2. Dravid 3. Menaria 4. Botha 5. Rahane 6. Chandimal 7. Owais Shah 8. Binny 9. Trivedi 10. Sreesanth 11. Tait

    If watson isnt there, hodge can come in middle and rahane could go up in his place. OR they cn put goswami and collingwood in place of binny and chandimal.

  • Charindra on April 3, 2012, 15:21 GMT

    Boy, Chandimal at 50000!! That's mind boggling. And Warne had passed his sell by date as a captain. Rajasthan will benefit with the level headed Dravid at the helm.

  • on April 3, 2012, 15:05 GMT

    1st time Bangladeshi 2 player will play in IPL. All the best Sakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal

  • soumyas on April 3, 2012, 15:01 GMT

    @freddieraghu, though collingwood is not in england team now, not sure abt his services in IPL, england's schedule collides with IPL completely like always.

  • aiyinax on April 3, 2012, 14:58 GMT

    The best Sreesanth can do is flirt with the female owners. Please do not burden him with anything else. Anything else and RR's fortunes will take a dip.

  • on April 3, 2012, 14:56 GMT

    @Deepesh Mathur : I think you forgot to add the captain of the Royals there :P

  • subbaraogaru on April 3, 2012, 14:52 GMT

    Not much options to play week Indian bench.... my choice of playing eleven before Shane Watson comes ... Shreevats Goswami, Ajinkya Rahane, Rahul Dravid, Brad Hodge, Ashok Menaria, Dinesh Chandimal, Stuart Binny, Johan Botha, Siddharth Trivedi, Sreesanth 11. Owais Shah/ Shuan Tait/Brod Hogg depends upon pitch..

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on April 3, 2012, 14:50 GMT

    RR have to be a bit careful until Watson arrives. I don't see too many big hitters in their team barring the versatile Dravid who has this uncanny ability to play the anchor or the aggressor with big shots as the situation demands. Chandimal is a lovely player with all the shots in the book. Hope Menaria and Rahane score at least 60-65 runs between them in every match and leave the remaining work for Dravid, Chandimal and Botha until Watson returns. I keep my fingers crossed. I'm a staunch supporter of Dravid and team loyalty means nothing to me in IPL.

  • on April 3, 2012, 14:48 GMT

    i think rajhistan dont have big names but they definitely have potential to show up during this event

  • on April 3, 2012, 14:44 GMT

    1.rahane 2.dravid,3.Hodge,4.Owais Shah/chandimal (when arrives),5.maneria 6.Botha 7.pinal Shah 8.Cooper/Hogg 9.Sreesanth 10.Tivedi 11.amit Singh this should be playing XI for RR

  • on April 3, 2012, 14:30 GMT

    chandimal will wow the ipl5

  • on April 3, 2012, 14:15 GMT

    @ Deepesh: where is dravid?

  • on April 3, 2012, 14:07 GMT

    @Deepesh Mathur: Owais Shah at 9??? are you kidding? lol..

  • on April 3, 2012, 13:48 GMT

    My Pick for team

    1. Ajikya Rahane

    2. Shane Watson

    3. Ashok Menaria

    4. Botha

    5. Cooper

    6. Sreevastv Goswami

    7. Amit Singh

    8. Trivedi

    9. Owais Shah

    10. Binny

    11. Sreesanth

  • tigers_eye on April 3, 2012, 13:38 GMT

    @ Rally_Windies: Shakib is playing for Kolkata Night Riders since last season. He will be there as well this season. Tamim is with Pune in his first season.

  • Rally_Windies on April 3, 2012, 13:22 GMT

    I am surprised the Bangladeshi Shakib Al Hasan has not landed an IPL contract ..

    in my opinion he is a better alrounder than Vettori, and should come a a far cheaper price .....

  • freddieraghu on April 3, 2012, 13:19 GMT

    Absolutely Hilarious article... Paul Collingwood. Englands T20 world cup winning captain, excellent cricketing brain, T20 specialist, Good finisher, one of the greatest fielders the game has ever seen. But he is not mentioned at all. We can only laugh at this article.

  • the_wallster on April 3, 2012, 13:10 GMT

    Chandimal at 50k is a steal. They'll miss Ross Taylor, though.

  • soumyas on April 3, 2012, 13:10 GMT

    why RR,KXIP teams are not buying good players ? dravid who himself not a specialist in this format how can take team to win? i didn't understand why mumbai bought all the better fireign players when foreign players have to sit on bench due to limit of 4. Instead they cud have been bought by RR,KXIP to make IPL more competitive. Only MM,RCB,CSK,KXIP are looking storng, DD,PW are looking Ok, and DC,RR,KXIP are looking really weak.

  • on April 3, 2012, 12:08 GMT

    Dravid...I dont like the IPL but since you are playing i wish you score the maximum amount of runs and your team lifts the trophy...your grace is such that the platform where you stand/perform command attention and respect..all the best

  • on April 3, 2012, 12:05 GMT

    For 1st Half My Raj. Royal XI should b 1.Ajinkya 2.Dravid 3.Owis Shah/Collingwood 4.Hodge 5.Akash Chopra 6.Binny 7.Abhishek 8.Botha 9.Menaria 10.Sreesanth 11.Tait

  • on April 3, 2012, 12:04 GMT

    best of luck rahul an rajasthan an royals and shilpa ...............halla bol

  • on April 3, 2012, 11:59 GMT

    is SHAKTI GAUCHAN of Nepal is with RR ....he was called for trials in nagpur..is he selected or not ?? anyone have any idea

  • on April 3, 2012, 11:46 GMT

    Watch out for owais shah

  • BDHUNTER on April 3, 2012, 11:45 GMT

    TRAVIS BIST IS EXPECTED INSTEAD ROSS TAYLOR. HOWEVER GOOD LUCK FOR ROAYLS AND THINK AS LIKE 2008 THEY WILL WIN THE HEART OF JAIPUR..............

  • satish619chandar on April 3, 2012, 11:43 GMT

    All depends how Rahane plays and how soon Watto returns.. He will be back from long test in slow tracks from WI and where he will be more needed as bowler.. Can't back his fitness too.. RR did a big wrong by losing out Rossie.. The local players in Rahane, Menaria,Binny will remain the key.. Having veterans in Hodge, Hogg, Shah and our very own Dravid will provide them lots of experience though.. Good for the youngsters.. As usual they start as underdogs and might surprise a few too..

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  • satish619chandar on April 3, 2012, 11:43 GMT

    All depends how Rahane plays and how soon Watto returns.. He will be back from long test in slow tracks from WI and where he will be more needed as bowler.. Can't back his fitness too.. RR did a big wrong by losing out Rossie.. The local players in Rahane, Menaria,Binny will remain the key.. Having veterans in Hodge, Hogg, Shah and our very own Dravid will provide them lots of experience though.. Good for the youngsters.. As usual they start as underdogs and might surprise a few too..

  • BDHUNTER on April 3, 2012, 11:45 GMT

    TRAVIS BIST IS EXPECTED INSTEAD ROSS TAYLOR. HOWEVER GOOD LUCK FOR ROAYLS AND THINK AS LIKE 2008 THEY WILL WIN THE HEART OF JAIPUR..............

  • on April 3, 2012, 11:46 GMT

    Watch out for owais shah

  • on April 3, 2012, 11:59 GMT

    is SHAKTI GAUCHAN of Nepal is with RR ....he was called for trials in nagpur..is he selected or not ?? anyone have any idea

  • on April 3, 2012, 12:04 GMT

    best of luck rahul an rajasthan an royals and shilpa ...............halla bol

  • on April 3, 2012, 12:05 GMT

    For 1st Half My Raj. Royal XI should b 1.Ajinkya 2.Dravid 3.Owis Shah/Collingwood 4.Hodge 5.Akash Chopra 6.Binny 7.Abhishek 8.Botha 9.Menaria 10.Sreesanth 11.Tait

  • on April 3, 2012, 12:08 GMT

    Dravid...I dont like the IPL but since you are playing i wish you score the maximum amount of runs and your team lifts the trophy...your grace is such that the platform where you stand/perform command attention and respect..all the best

  • soumyas on April 3, 2012, 13:10 GMT

    why RR,KXIP teams are not buying good players ? dravid who himself not a specialist in this format how can take team to win? i didn't understand why mumbai bought all the better fireign players when foreign players have to sit on bench due to limit of 4. Instead they cud have been bought by RR,KXIP to make IPL more competitive. Only MM,RCB,CSK,KXIP are looking storng, DD,PW are looking Ok, and DC,RR,KXIP are looking really weak.

  • the_wallster on April 3, 2012, 13:10 GMT

    Chandimal at 50k is a steal. They'll miss Ross Taylor, though.

  • freddieraghu on April 3, 2012, 13:19 GMT

    Absolutely Hilarious article... Paul Collingwood. Englands T20 world cup winning captain, excellent cricketing brain, T20 specialist, Good finisher, one of the greatest fielders the game has ever seen. But he is not mentioned at all. We can only laugh at this article.