May 15, 2013

Dravid and the art of T20 captaincy

Despite a small squad bereft of big names, Rajasthan Royals' captain has churned out win after win
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About two months ago Rahul Dravid rang me to ask my opinion of a couple of domestic uncapped medium-pacers I had played with. If Rajasthan Royals had vacant spots, it was worth signing these lads, I remember suggesting. After all, every team is allowed to sign as many as 33 players for their IPL campaign and uncapped players hardly ever burn a hole in the franchisee's pocket; they are always "good buys".

Rahul, though, was quite sure what he wanted to do, which was sign only one of the two. Keeping the squad small (Royals have only 28 players) was their top priority.

I thought that emphasis on keeping the squad small indicated his and the franchise's inflexibility. I mistook his clarity of thought for rigidity, a quality I expected to see in his captaincy as well.

Since they had small squad I assumed not too many changes would be made to or within the playing XI. I was in for a surprise and, I think, so were most of the other teams. Royals continued their dominance at home but no two games followed the same pattern. Against Kolkata Knight Riders, they dished out a greentop and played five seam bowlers. The plan was to not only negate the Sunil Narine threat but also to not bowl to the Knight Riders' batsmen's strengths, which is playing spin.

As much as captaincy is about playing to your strengths, it's equally about knowing your opposition and denying them what they like most. While that means challenging yourself, it's a risk worth taking against an opposition that's superior to you on paper.

Nine days after the Knight Riders game, when Royals hosted Mumbai Indians, Dravid opened the bowling with two spinners. The sight of Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting opening together can be daunting in any format other than T20. While most batsmen don't mind going after the bowlers from the beginning, Tendulkar and Ponting are unlikely to step on the accelerator before getting set. In that small window of circumspection, Dravid bowled two of his rather inexperienced but accurate spinners - Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan.

Now that Ponting has made way for Dwayne Smith in Mumbai's line-up, I'm sure Dravid will opt for a different pair to open the bowling.

To succeed as a captain in T20, you need to swallow your pride and do what is right for the team. Putting the team ahead of himself comes naturally to Dravid

However guarded you are about the surprises you have planned for the opposition, certain cards do get revealed at the toss. But once the game starts, it's a captain's prerogative to shuffle the pack as many times as he wishes to, and that's what Dravid is doing. While most teams are surprisingly reluctant to experiment too much with the batting order, Dravid hasn't played an identical line-up in two consecutive games. He has identified Shane Watson as Royals' most important batsman and all efforts are made to give him a platform to succeed.

When Royals played Sunrisers Hyderabad, Dravid opened the batting to negate the threat of Dale Steyn. At Eden Gardens, Watson opened, because the first six overs are the best time to score; Dravid demoted himself to No. 8, for he knew that to score on that sluggish pitch against spinners they needed left-handers or players with more brute strength than he has. So Dishant Yagnik was picked (even though Royals had a keeper-batsman in Sanju Samson) and promoted up the order to bat with Samson, and Owais Shah, who is very good against spinners, replaced the in-form Brad Hodge. Against Mumbai, Dravid pushed himself down to let the big hitters go out and make the runs.

To succeed as a captain in T20, you need to swallow your pride and do what is right for the team. Putting the team ahead of himself comes naturally to Dravid.

While many believe Royals' strategy of keeping a small squad is a money-saving exercise, Dravid's view is that it's always prudent to pick the right personnel and then empower them. In a big squad, there will be insecurities and unfulfilled expectations, which cause dissent and resentment. It also tempts the captain to prematurely drop a player and move on to the next man. In a format where failure is more common than success, it's imperative to instil faith in a player, to let him know he isn't one poor game away from getting dropped, and that the management trusts his skills and their assessment of him.

Not many uncapped players have got an extended run in big-ticket teams like Mumbai and Royal Challengers Bangalore, but Royals have not only given several opportunities to relatively lesser-known Indian players (Samson, Yagnik, Stuart Binny), they have also batted them high in the order to give them enough time to succeed. The bigger the names in the team, the tougher it is to play around with the XI and the batting order.

Clearly the adage about a captain being as good as his team has been turned on its head in the case of Rajasthan Royals. Dravid's ingenious utilisation of limited resources has proved that at times a team is as good as its captain allows it to be.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • TheOnlyEmperor on May 15, 2013, 7:40 GMT

    An inspiring leader is important for success. If he has charisma that adds to it. Shane Warne and Dravid are very different personalities, but both have led the team by cultivating respect for themselves in the way they handled themselves amongst the other team members as also on the field. How a captain behaves off the field has as much to do with success as what he does on field. Now let's see the curious example of Gayle, who was seemed demotivated and a big flop at KKR. What caused him to actualize on his potential at RCB? The dressing room environment for sure. Gayle has been performing brilliantly for the past few seasons for RCB. He now sees himself associated with the IPL more and the captain doesn't really matter. Watson on the other hand has loyalties to RR. Dhoni has bloomed this IPL. He's a different player compared to the previous 5 editions... as also Rohit Sharma, who seems to do well with responsibility. The common factor for all these is their self-esteem has gone up!

  • on May 16, 2013, 17:28 GMT

    A man who can use his thinking Power!

  • Haleos on May 16, 2013, 9:21 GMT

    @k_r_a - he will keep playing till no one is ready to buy him. Just like dada. Indian superrstars dont know when to stop.

  • deathstar01 on May 16, 2013, 8:17 GMT

    I have been a fan of Dravid's captaincy untill lately when he is trying Faulkner and Samson in the 3rd and 4th of the batting order. From my point of view, RR lost yesterday's match to MI just because of this batting order. Samson is a rising batsmen but sending him within the first 5 overs are creating pressures for him. And wasting overs and wickets for Watson (best allrounder in the world), Hodge (one of the most influencial t20 players). I hope, Dravid will sort out these things. And hope they will win the league.

  • DTom on May 16, 2013, 6:18 GMT

    No doubt that Dravid is a decent captain. However, to build him up like a giant in captaincy is simply hero-worshiping. There are so many things he has gotten wrong. Faulkner repeatedly failing up the order, demoting himself in a match where wickets kept falling and stability was needed, sending the likes of Yagnik etc ahead of Hodge, persisting with Rahane when Samson came on and made an immediate impact. These are things at which any captain could have failed, and Dravid did as well. He also succeeded at many things where other captains have as well. Just because it is Dravid, these things are being blown up as tactical genius indications. Try too many things and some of those are bound to come off.

    Imagine Kohli promoting Faulkner repeatedly up the order ... people will be laughing at him. Once you win matches, like RR have done, all your bad decisions are forgotten. Dhoni was being considered a liability some time back, now he is a genius with India and CSK winning.

  • raghoo1 on May 16, 2013, 4:20 GMT

    I think the stereotype of RD working wonders with "limited resources" has been hugely overplayed. They have sure played well as a team (as they have always done right from Warne days) and have also used their local conditions well, but I think this is just Akash Chopra playing to the gallery.

  • Vishal_07 on May 16, 2013, 3:38 GMT

    While I respect Dravid as a player and as a person, his captaincy has been far from being flawless. Another example today, Hodge after Yagnik, seriously!

  • EverybodylovesSachin on May 15, 2013, 18:15 GMT

    Rohit Sharma showed better captaincy today..Dravid made a mistake to chase in Mumbai..Very difficult to do that unless someone like Pollard makes 50 runs in two overs..Seems to me Art has nothing to do with Captaincy...Art has only to do with bowling, Batting and Fielding.

  • k_r_a on May 15, 2013, 17:08 GMT

    is dravid playing next year as well?

  • unbiasedfan on May 15, 2013, 16:32 GMT

    While you are largely correct there have been instances when Dravid has failed as captain - the one at the top of my mind was their first match against CSK where his field placings, and bowling changes were poor. RR lost a match they should have won.

  • TheOnlyEmperor on May 15, 2013, 7:40 GMT

    An inspiring leader is important for success. If he has charisma that adds to it. Shane Warne and Dravid are very different personalities, but both have led the team by cultivating respect for themselves in the way they handled themselves amongst the other team members as also on the field. How a captain behaves off the field has as much to do with success as what he does on field. Now let's see the curious example of Gayle, who was seemed demotivated and a big flop at KKR. What caused him to actualize on his potential at RCB? The dressing room environment for sure. Gayle has been performing brilliantly for the past few seasons for RCB. He now sees himself associated with the IPL more and the captain doesn't really matter. Watson on the other hand has loyalties to RR. Dhoni has bloomed this IPL. He's a different player compared to the previous 5 editions... as also Rohit Sharma, who seems to do well with responsibility. The common factor for all these is their self-esteem has gone up!

  • on May 16, 2013, 17:28 GMT

    A man who can use his thinking Power!

  • Haleos on May 16, 2013, 9:21 GMT

    @k_r_a - he will keep playing till no one is ready to buy him. Just like dada. Indian superrstars dont know when to stop.

  • deathstar01 on May 16, 2013, 8:17 GMT

    I have been a fan of Dravid's captaincy untill lately when he is trying Faulkner and Samson in the 3rd and 4th of the batting order. From my point of view, RR lost yesterday's match to MI just because of this batting order. Samson is a rising batsmen but sending him within the first 5 overs are creating pressures for him. And wasting overs and wickets for Watson (best allrounder in the world), Hodge (one of the most influencial t20 players). I hope, Dravid will sort out these things. And hope they will win the league.

  • DTom on May 16, 2013, 6:18 GMT

    No doubt that Dravid is a decent captain. However, to build him up like a giant in captaincy is simply hero-worshiping. There are so many things he has gotten wrong. Faulkner repeatedly failing up the order, demoting himself in a match where wickets kept falling and stability was needed, sending the likes of Yagnik etc ahead of Hodge, persisting with Rahane when Samson came on and made an immediate impact. These are things at which any captain could have failed, and Dravid did as well. He also succeeded at many things where other captains have as well. Just because it is Dravid, these things are being blown up as tactical genius indications. Try too many things and some of those are bound to come off.

    Imagine Kohli promoting Faulkner repeatedly up the order ... people will be laughing at him. Once you win matches, like RR have done, all your bad decisions are forgotten. Dhoni was being considered a liability some time back, now he is a genius with India and CSK winning.

  • raghoo1 on May 16, 2013, 4:20 GMT

    I think the stereotype of RD working wonders with "limited resources" has been hugely overplayed. They have sure played well as a team (as they have always done right from Warne days) and have also used their local conditions well, but I think this is just Akash Chopra playing to the gallery.

  • Vishal_07 on May 16, 2013, 3:38 GMT

    While I respect Dravid as a player and as a person, his captaincy has been far from being flawless. Another example today, Hodge after Yagnik, seriously!

  • EverybodylovesSachin on May 15, 2013, 18:15 GMT

    Rohit Sharma showed better captaincy today..Dravid made a mistake to chase in Mumbai..Very difficult to do that unless someone like Pollard makes 50 runs in two overs..Seems to me Art has nothing to do with Captaincy...Art has only to do with bowling, Batting and Fielding.

  • k_r_a on May 15, 2013, 17:08 GMT

    is dravid playing next year as well?

  • unbiasedfan on May 15, 2013, 16:32 GMT

    While you are largely correct there have been instances when Dravid has failed as captain - the one at the top of my mind was their first match against CSK where his field placings, and bowling changes were poor. RR lost a match they should have won.

  • YogifromNY on May 15, 2013, 16:15 GMT

    Superb article and analysis, Aakash (as usual). Dravid's showing yet again what a terrific thinker he is, and an inspiring leader who motivates people to rise above what they themselves believe they can do. Folks who say a captain is not that important have either never played cricket or have never worked in teams - a great leader can inspire above-average performances from even an average pack of players; a bad leader can actually demotivate even a good pack of players so that they under-perform. Dravid, Kumble, Ganguly and Dhoni - four terrific leaders from modern times in Indian cricket!

  • on May 15, 2013, 15:43 GMT

    A lot of people blaming Dravid for 'defensive' captaincy and diluting his success by stating that he sowed what Ganguly reaped - seem to forget that whatever Team India was in early to late 2000s was result of what both Ganguly and Dravid brought to the team as the leadership group. Dravid was never the limelight-hogging type but it is under him that India won test series in ENG and WI for the first time in ages. He is a bit defensive, but not inflexible. It is under him that India racked up the world record run of successful ODI run chases, used IK Pathan/M Kaif as floaters, and gave chances to Murali Kartik. It is unfortunate that neither of could really live up to their potential and the Chappell-Ganguly saga took the sheen off his achievements. Hope this time around Dravid can add another feather to his cap.

  • EverybodylovesSachin on May 15, 2013, 14:52 GMT

    Rajeev Balakrishnan -- He gave up captaincy after England tour..Nobody removed him..Leader do not do that..Dravid is always on defensive side on and off the field..You cannot develop art in one IPL season if their is any in T20 cricket..

  • on May 15, 2013, 14:50 GMT

    I see a lot of people commenting on IPL 1 and Dravid's captaincy - that team had Kallis, Boucher, Steyn, Zaheer, Mishab - but none of them performed- it wasn't Dravid's fault that all these great / good players had a bad season - RD carried the team and yet was blamed for playing a test side. He maybe not be a clean hitter of the bowl, though he can always be relied on come through for his team. The primary goal of IPL is to promote talent - so we can find the next Sachin, Rahul, Dhoni - and RR has done it year after year; RD was given a RR team in 2008, which he has turned into a promising unit in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.

  • Nampally on May 15, 2013, 12:59 GMT

    There are 2 things which a great captain brings to the team- 1. He gets the best out of his XI by making them play as a "team" 2. He lets everyone grow to their best by giving them chances to show their worth. Dravid has done this superbly. Bowlers like Chandila & batsmen like Samson & Yagnik were never heard of before. But these guys are well known for their timely performances now. Rahane played so much better in the company of his "idol" Dravid. Even out of form Watson regained his form under inspired leadership of Dravid. RR surprised one & all by their many unexpected wins that even Shane Warne would be proud of the team that he nurtured earlier. Above all Dravid himself led by example when he opened the innings. Only in one match I felt Dravid should have gone much earlier than going so much down in the batting order. That cost RR a loss. In the very next game Dravid realised it was a failed experiment & went back to his winning mode again. RR will qualify for the Playoff!

  • alarky on May 15, 2013, 12:44 GMT

    Dravid is much more than inspiring leader - he's the best person who has ever played cricket. I wish him and his team well, in this year's IPL - may they win!

  • A.Ak on May 15, 2013, 11:10 GMT

    An Indian coach once told when Dravid was captaining under his coaching, even his Own India nteam mates were jealous of his success (Dravid holds record for consecutive chase wins in ODIs and many away wins in tests). So when people ask why Dravid didnt succeed before, the answer is- cricket is a team game where you need good player and good leader to succeed. Thats why Start studded teams fail under pressure. CSK wasn't a star team to start with, they became a star team after couple of IPL seasons. Raina (was not a star before IPL1), MVjay,Ashwin, Badri, Balaji, Aniruth, Jakthi, AMorkel, Douggie, and now Bravo - All met success through IPL not before. It was because of a leader MSD. Dravid the leader for MSD for India, remember.

  • on May 15, 2013, 11:01 GMT

    A pity that he did not captain indian team longer.

  • TheOnlyEmperor on May 15, 2013, 10:59 GMT

    "Amazing how perceptions change. At the time of the inaugural IPL in 2008 I remember Dravid saying the best players are the best for any form of the game. He had packed his side with aging war-horses then and RCB were duly humbled."

    They were not humbled because of "aging war-horses". They were humbled because the other teams got their "team" act together faster. It must be remembered that Michael Hussey would be 38 a few days from now and he's right on top of the performer's list. Gilchrist who won the man-of-the match yesterday is no spring-chicken either. After the 2008 opening blast by BrendonMcCullum, RCB as a team and the ownership were on the mental backfoot and THAT was responsible for the slide, not Dravid and the "aging war horses". Without HINDSIGHT, at the first auction, Dravid backed talent and experience, because when you have those 2 combined with the right attitude, you CAN innovate and triumph in most situations. That's true in life and true in cricket too.

  • guptahitesh4u on May 15, 2013, 10:55 GMT

    A captain is as good as the team...Dravid is a fabulous player and no doubt about that however if the success of RR is due to Dravid , than we must notice that RR finished at 7th position in 2012, RCB finished at 7th position in 2008 and all was under the captaincy of Dravid!!

  • satishchandar on May 15, 2013, 10:42 GMT

    Beautiful article.. Dravid has taken the team to a new level by bringing in likes of Samson, Yagnik and allowing Rahane to express himself continuously.. Rahane was not a regular even in his home team of MI but a rocksolid opener now for RR.. Usually Dravid used to be a captain who tries to utilise talented folks by giving them in challenges.. Even in his international tenure.. He was the prime guy on whom the current of the big players established themselves.. Dravid used up Dhoni, Irfan and all with bat better than Dada.. Raina evolved under Dravid.. Opened batting with DK and Jaffer in England to win the series, Won first time in SA.. Unfortunately his international captaincy went down due to so many factors with loss of form to key players being the prime one.. Still, it wouldn't end as a poor period.. He is not as conservative as his batting when it comes to captaincy..

  • on May 15, 2013, 10:26 GMT

    The same Dravid captained much before in IPL. Why did he fail? In T20, more than captaincy, the individual contributions matters. In T20, I never talk about doing as a team(One Pollard could win against SRH) - One Miller could win against RCB. One Gayle could win against many teams in this IPL and past too.

    Cricket is a team game only in ODIs and Tests. In T20s, its all about how individuals performs and how your strategies on your day.

    SRH did right in bringing Ishant the moment Pollard came... if he had taken wicket, people would have called it an excellent move considering its last over for Ishant. If it doesnt work, the same people blame.

  • RajeshNaik on May 15, 2013, 10:14 GMT

    Spot on. RR players have blossomed under Dravid. When the captain supports the team members and delegates, the team stands up, performs and supports the captain. RD's captaincy skills are legendary. Only if the 2 legends (SRT and SG) had supported him well, he would have become a great Test captain for India as well. While he performed and supported when they were captains, he did not get the same support from them. Look at Binny. One irresponsible cricketer he was. He is lucky, because after deciding to be serious about his game he has got the chance to play under RD in the biggest stage. Look at the results. Hard to imagine Samson getting chances if he was with any other team. Sachin Baby is another exciting player with RR. Though he was in the XI in couple of matches, he did not get a chance to bat. Good to see RD at the helm and doing good for his team. It has been a pleasure watching him play and leading. May be for the last time we have the chance to see this great man play.

  • vrgaurav on May 15, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    Amazing how perceptions change. At the time of the inaugural IPL in 2008 I remember Dravid saying the best players are the best for any form of the game. He had packed his side with aging war-horses then and RCB were duly humbled. Dravid got panned and was dropped - the side he had picked at the auction had included Sunil Joshi (38), Kumble (37), Misbah ul Haq (35), Chanderpaul (34), Kallis (33), Boucher (31), Jaffer (30). 5 years is a long time and especially in cricket. I am sure he wouldn't agree today with what he said all those years ago.

  • bored_iam on May 15, 2013, 10:01 GMT

    @Anoop Mitra: Just a correction. He resigned. He voluntarily left the job post the England series of 2007. Dhoni & Kumble took over for LOIs and Tests respectively at the time.

  • Jayseks on May 15, 2013, 9:23 GMT

    Very well written article. Kudos to our own Aakash Chopra. His articles are always intriguing and makes the reader think in a new dimension. I am a big fan of his articles. May be it wouldn't be a bad idea if at some point of time he starts coaching. I am sure he has the potential to become one of India's best coach. It is right to say that putting the team ahead of himself comes naturally to Dravid. That shows in the manner in which he has utilized unknown players to perform to their fullest potential some have even exceeded their own personal best. However, I still believe that the true test for a good leader is when he is put under tremendous pressure, when all his pre-match ideas have dried out, when he has to think something out of the box on the field. That is why on any day there is no one par MSD when it comes to T20. To be honest, it is easier to manage school kids than University toppers. From that perspective, even Rohit Sharma has done a commendable job as a T20 captain!

  • Narbavi on May 15, 2013, 9:17 GMT

    @vaidyar: Big deal, how many of them have got a chance to play? In RR's case 25 different players have played so far!!

  • on May 15, 2013, 9:13 GMT

    A good article but a caption is as good as the squad performs. It is not the star value just as the DD is a prime example. 90% percent of his descions have come off and even those which back fired have not been highlighted because of the wonderful perfomance of the team. What is the logic of playing Yagnik when you have a keeper in Sanju. The reason given was that Yagnik is a left hander. Dravid played Sachin Baby a left hander for 3 matches and he never got a chance to bat in any of these matches. Still he got dropped twice.

  • on May 15, 2013, 9:00 GMT

    Clearly the adage about a captain being as good as his team has been turned on its head in the case of Rajasthan Royals. Dravid's ingenious utilisation of limited resources has proved that at times a team is as good as its captain allows it to be.

  • NEOXY on May 15, 2013, 8:47 GMT

    @Karthik Manjunath, i agree with your point that RR hasnt been able to win many of their away matches, but that i think is the case with all the teams that have made it to the play offs so far. MI have their fortress and even CSK who have done brilliantly in Chennai have won 6 out of 8 i guess. Now considering the candidates for the 4th playoff slot which are SH and RCB (as of now) both of them have higher success at home than away. So its going to be a level field for all as the playoffs are in Delhi and that is where the captaincy is going to come into the picture. Looking at all matches so far, two brilliant captains have been Dhoni and Dravid. Rohit Sharma has been good, but MI relies more on individual players than team efforts. So as a Dravid fan and a RCB fan i would like a RR vs RCB in final but in all probability its going to be RR vs CSK. so keeping my fingers crossed and Hallabol!!

  • on May 15, 2013, 8:28 GMT

    As usual Article is awesome !!! The points mentioned are 100% true... Dravid has shown what captaincy is all about... Sad such a gifted player was not given a long run for Indian captaincy.

  • on May 15, 2013, 8:05 GMT

    The ultimate team man. Rahul Dravid for PM anyone!!!

  • TheOnlyEmperor on May 15, 2013, 8:00 GMT

    #3 : Captaincy is not about merely being able to set the right field or getting the batting order right. That too. It's also about getting the team right and taking hard decisions. It's about putting the team first. It's about maintaining dignity and poise. It's about knowing what to do and where you are going. It's about having a plan to WIN and implementing it. People seldom follow a leader who doesn't know what he is doing or where he is going. A captain needs to know when he needs to be persistent and when he needs to effect changes. A captain needs to see the writing on the wall EARLY. There are always signs and signals. When he doesn't and keeps banging his head against the wall, there can be only one certain result. The teams at the bottom of the pile this IPL are an example. Who is driving the car? If there's more than one driver, there is bound to be an accident, and success in a tournament cannot be the outcome of an accident!

  • TheOnlyEmperor on May 15, 2013, 7:52 GMT

    #2: The captain matters in T20 because he can swing the fortunes of the game by his decisions. He's got to get the right bowlers to bowl to the right batsmen during the right period of the game. He needs to have GAME SENSE...Dhoni is exceptional in this regard which is the reason why CSK has performed brilliantly over the past 6 editions compared to MI (say) which is higher on the talent quotient. Bravo was a nothing at MI, but he's a transformed person with CSK. Hussey reinvents himself and Albie Morkel swears by CSK. Jadeja was a loose cannon of sorts, but at CSK he's got maturity. Why did we not see such excellent qualities and comraderie being fostered by Ganguly at KKR? The PW team has fallen apart this year, not because of talent but because they don't have a LEADER as a captain. A captain also has to lead from the front - fairness, integrity, training rigor, overcoming weaknesses, developing strengths and improving self performance on the field. All great captains do this!

  • dev007bond on May 15, 2013, 7:22 GMT

    @karthik manjunath : With all the stars in the team any captain can win a match but with minimum resources RD has make this RR side look so competent and danger for other teams. Any CSK fan must understand this that with normal or i should say without star players CSK is like any ordinary team.Though this star CSK side has lost 3 of their away games with all the stars playing in he team. What about all the stars in RCB even they are loosing away games. It is easy to say negative about a team which doesn't have any big stars but no one is pointing out RCB,MI and many other teams . cricketers (Not stars) win matches for a team. RR is the only team who is playing like a team and m sure they will win this edition of IPL

  • on May 15, 2013, 7:12 GMT

    Very well analyzed. A couple of times Dravid has gone overboard with his experiments, but thats understandable! Its the downside of being proactive. Not all decisions will come out as 100% correct. The fact is, Dravid has been the best captain this IPL. A better strategist that Warne. Irrespective of the results, he has handled his resources well. Some people here are downplaying his cricketing acumen, I hope he proves his mettle in the matches to come.

  • rtom on May 15, 2013, 7:09 GMT

    "To succeed as a captain in T20, you need to swallow your pride and do what is right for the team".. Akash, is it not true for all the formats of the game ? Probably Tennis already has a norm that it will have a "non playing captain".. Dravid is exceptional in this IPL, for just being the captain, teh rate in which he scored, promoting younger player up the order and the overall contribution he makes to the team. He already has high regards to Sanju Samson and i feel if Dravid says that , then this lad has some bright future for him waiting provided he keeps his feet on the ground. i am impressed about RR performance. No star players, but everybody is a star in his own respect. look at Binny, he has become a complete match winner now. i guess Dravid has now two match winners and himself and Rahane can be the "match players" and in bowling I would says "dependables" which gives him more options that some other teams.

  • vaidyar on May 15, 2013, 6:51 GMT

    28 seems to be more or less the norm. Considering they haven't given Badree, Hogg or Fidel Edwards much of a chance I don't see much logic there in buying them. Especially Edwards when they already had Tait. Also KKR has only 24 players.

    But I agree his captaincy has been good, but he has been helped by his players firing at the right moment and responding to being empowered. Last time they seemed to have peaked too early and lost their way midway into the tournament. One thing is also that his batting seems a lot more 'liberated'. Maybe that is also helping his captaincy. Probably knows that this is his last time playing competitive cricket and is bolder and willing to take more risks. Not complaining at all. :)

  • Yasin123Patel on May 15, 2013, 5:55 GMT

    RR have only shane watson as a big star. Hodge is leading scorer but he not play international. Tait; even ozzi domestic team didn't prefer him. Rahane isn't a 20 superstar. He is stroke player and play only couple of International matches and left out. Faulkner made his name this IPL. He isn't a star. Cooper uncaped. He also didn't play any international match. So its obviously safe to say that RR doesn't have a big T20 star. They perform as a unit. They haven't star but they make stars.

  • on May 15, 2013, 5:50 GMT

    We Accept RR has performed well this season and Important fact they are not performing away Matches and Playoffs Matches are away matches i strongly feel RR is not Gud Enuf to win the IPL and Coming TO Akash Chopra we all Know Akash is BIg Loyal Fan of RR so im not suprised that the Praises lot about RR in this Article, Dont Forget Same Dravid was the Captain of Earlier Season too , Dravid Must Bring Consistency to RR Away Matches and Following Seasons Like CSK Does

  • DaisonGarvasis on May 15, 2013, 5:30 GMT

    @Vishal_07 - you made two points, however second one answered the first one - You are asking why Dravid demoted himself to No-8 when it was the last 5 overs and quick runs were needed. Then you say in the other game Watson and Binny could score those quick runs because "luckily" Dravid got out. The commentators were questioning during the game why Watson is held back and why Sanju Samson is put forward as a "sacrificial goat" to the moving ball. At the end of the game the same Commentators decided to award Dravid with "Nayi Soch Award" for holding Watson back for the time pitch is eased out and he won the game for RR. Some of his decisions look to be questionale but at the end of the day what matters is "DID HE WIN THE GAME"?

  • on May 15, 2013, 5:29 GMT

    Rahul has been an underrated Captain than as a player , Agreed he can be defensive at times but he prepares well as he would for his batting and plays his cards right.. It's sad that he accomplishments as a captain aren't something that are talked about , thats largely because Greg Chappels coaching overlapped with his captaincy and we all know what people liked to talked about then.. Consider this Rahul led the team to first ever series win in Windies, England and with no Sachin in the team for the Windies series. He literally wiped out the chokers while chasing tag from the Indian ODI team by setting up record consecutive chase and wins.. and there were some worthwhile talents that blossomed during his tenure though they aren't going nowhere right now..

  • sarangsrk on May 15, 2013, 5:19 GMT

    Well written, Aakash sir.Harsha Bhogle once said that there are only very few players (less than 5%) who utilise their potential to the maximum and same goes for teams. RR is one team which always does that and is greater than sum of its parts. They always are very close to top 4 and this time they have qualified in top 4 in flying colours. Rahul Dravid has once again showed us that hard work, perseverance and dedication are qualities that can take you farther than you can imagine yourself. Keep going RR and RD.This could be your IPL.

  • on May 15, 2013, 5:12 GMT

    I would say, it is the strategy of RR management to pick the uncapped players and give them opportunities. It is happening since 2008 (and not just in Dravid's regime only). They make sure to have an inspirational leader rather than a ad pulling charisma. Every year they're producing some good names but it's up to the individual to cash in after that - like Jadeja & Pathan did. I would give credit to the management but of course both Warne and Dravid are executing the management's plan very well.

  • on May 15, 2013, 5:12 GMT

    Potential ignored talent optimum utilized by Wall. CSK having 7 players who playing for INDIA no user of praising about Dhoni. RR is the only team who promotes youngsters….

  • shobhit_nigam on May 15, 2013, 5:06 GMT

    very few in modern times have been able to analyse the game better than Akash Chopra & Rahul Dravid. And one of the reasons can be your strength to be critical & appreciative about evrything/anything under the sun.

    This is a very good account RR's success story in this years IPL. And it will be interesting match tonight at wankhede. "Dravid vs Goliath" as Siddhu called it.

  • on May 15, 2013, 4:56 GMT

    What's this nonsense stereotype of Rajasthan Royals having no big names? people seem to have a fancy of talking about RR as a team that performs without any stars in their line up. Yes, the team has made stars out of a few unknown names, but that does mean that their team is bereft of big names. They are amongst the less star studded teams, no doubt, but with the likes of Shane Watson (one of the world's best all rounders), Brad Hodge (highest scorer in internations T20s), Shaun Tait (one of the world's fastest, even though they don't prefer to play him) and Ajinkya Rahane (India's future test middle order), not to forget Kevon Cooper, they do have a well-balanced side. If there is a team in the IPL that is not well balanced, it is the Sunrisers. RR ranks along side Punjab in terms of team strength. Yes, RR ha performed above the promise they have on paper, but please stop this damning tale of the team winning without any stars - its taking the stereotype too far.

  • DaisonGarvasis on May 15, 2013, 4:55 GMT

    Aakash, thanks for this one about good old Rahul. Kept wondering why no body has wrote about Rahul's Captaincy this IPL! The empowering the "lesser-known" ones seems to have resulted in getting us the "find of this IPL". And that gives hope to may youngsters from lesser known places that there is place for them also in the Big Stage. And if you are gifted with talent and are ready to sweat it out, you can also make it big. Sir Jadeja is making rounds this IPL, he started from Royals, I guess there are a few guys capable of doing a few more Jadejas!!!

  • hiteshaggarwal on May 15, 2013, 4:38 GMT

    Well written sir... But RR have always been the same or should I say followed the same principles (even it means dying by them). I am a RR supporter from season 1 and have seen how they operate. Yusuf Pathan, Sir Jadeja and the like have all come through the RR system... Am not taking anything away from Dravid (We all love the man). Sometimes these things work and everyone praises them and when they don't work, (sorry for saying this) people like you are the first to ridicule the RR's for being a small team with no ambition or money to win blah blah blah!

  • on May 15, 2013, 4:36 GMT

    Good observations. Well written.

  • Vishal_07 on May 15, 2013, 4:22 GMT

    Aakash, while I agree with most of the examples you have given about Dravid's captaincy, I think you are going over the top in your praise. Dravid's most decisions are good but couple of them are questionable at best, one example is demoting himself down to #8 against Hyderabad. He is in the team as a batsman, what is he doing waiting for sending bowlers to score run when 5 overs are so remaining in the match. In the last match against CSK, Watson was vital in scoring the winning runs what was he doing coming at #4, fortunately, Dravid got out earlier to let Binny and Watson score freely and win the match.

  • on May 15, 2013, 4:11 GMT

    Good article Aakash. I liked the last para in your assessment.

    You also pointed out quite correctly that RR have been giving extended opportunity to many youngsters in the squad, which CSK have not! Agreed CSK is a settled side; but if any player (or two of them) face injury, the entire team dynamic may collapse. It has not happened, but who knows?

  • SivaSurapaneni on May 15, 2013, 4:09 GMT

    Being an Indian American, it is tough for me to choose my favorite IPL team as I have not been living in an Indian city now. To make it simple, I decided that my favorite team would be the team for which one of my all time favorites cricketing hero plays. Rajasthan Royals remains as my favorite team till Rahul Dravid plays for it :). I would have loved it more had Anil Kumble, my other cricketing hero be the mentor of the team :)

  • praful_cric on May 15, 2013, 3:52 GMT

    Great article for the great player... We all know Wall's intelleigence in Test cricket but he is showing it in T20 also. Great ambassador of the game.

  • N.Sundararajan on May 15, 2013, 3:44 GMT

    N. Sundararajan from Chennai---Akash

    Very well analysed and presented ! Even if BCCI did not realise or utlilise/reward Rahul Dravid for his incredible value, ( and they continue to pay obeisance to Sachin only--long after his expiry date!) the RRoyals owners Shilpa and Raj have given Rahul Dravid the freedom to handle the strategy---you should perhaps acknowledge their support also ! The online feedback of 84% of the fans wanting Rahul to play in 2014 IPL---would not be bettered by anyone else ! Indian cricket has been richer because of Rahul Dravid !

  • Deepak-Sholapurkar on May 15, 2013, 3:42 GMT

    In IPL 2013, Dravid clearly is the Best Captain. He utilized limited resources very well and made entry in second round. Compare RR with RCB both are having contrasting teams and contrasting results.

  • Deepak-Sholapurkar on May 15, 2013, 3:42 GMT

    In IPL 2013, Dravid clearly is the Best Captain. He utilized limited resources very well and made entry in second round. Compare RR with RCB both are having contrasting teams and contrasting results.

  • N.Sundararajan on May 15, 2013, 3:44 GMT

    N. Sundararajan from Chennai---Akash

    Very well analysed and presented ! Even if BCCI did not realise or utlilise/reward Rahul Dravid for his incredible value, ( and they continue to pay obeisance to Sachin only--long after his expiry date!) the RRoyals owners Shilpa and Raj have given Rahul Dravid the freedom to handle the strategy---you should perhaps acknowledge their support also ! The online feedback of 84% of the fans wanting Rahul to play in 2014 IPL---would not be bettered by anyone else ! Indian cricket has been richer because of Rahul Dravid !

  • praful_cric on May 15, 2013, 3:52 GMT

    Great article for the great player... We all know Wall's intelleigence in Test cricket but he is showing it in T20 also. Great ambassador of the game.

  • SivaSurapaneni on May 15, 2013, 4:09 GMT

    Being an Indian American, it is tough for me to choose my favorite IPL team as I have not been living in an Indian city now. To make it simple, I decided that my favorite team would be the team for which one of my all time favorites cricketing hero plays. Rajasthan Royals remains as my favorite team till Rahul Dravid plays for it :). I would have loved it more had Anil Kumble, my other cricketing hero be the mentor of the team :)

  • on May 15, 2013, 4:11 GMT

    Good article Aakash. I liked the last para in your assessment.

    You also pointed out quite correctly that RR have been giving extended opportunity to many youngsters in the squad, which CSK have not! Agreed CSK is a settled side; but if any player (or two of them) face injury, the entire team dynamic may collapse. It has not happened, but who knows?

  • Vishal_07 on May 15, 2013, 4:22 GMT

    Aakash, while I agree with most of the examples you have given about Dravid's captaincy, I think you are going over the top in your praise. Dravid's most decisions are good but couple of them are questionable at best, one example is demoting himself down to #8 against Hyderabad. He is in the team as a batsman, what is he doing waiting for sending bowlers to score run when 5 overs are so remaining in the match. In the last match against CSK, Watson was vital in scoring the winning runs what was he doing coming at #4, fortunately, Dravid got out earlier to let Binny and Watson score freely and win the match.

  • on May 15, 2013, 4:36 GMT

    Good observations. Well written.

  • hiteshaggarwal on May 15, 2013, 4:38 GMT

    Well written sir... But RR have always been the same or should I say followed the same principles (even it means dying by them). I am a RR supporter from season 1 and have seen how they operate. Yusuf Pathan, Sir Jadeja and the like have all come through the RR system... Am not taking anything away from Dravid (We all love the man). Sometimes these things work and everyone praises them and when they don't work, (sorry for saying this) people like you are the first to ridicule the RR's for being a small team with no ambition or money to win blah blah blah!

  • DaisonGarvasis on May 15, 2013, 4:55 GMT

    Aakash, thanks for this one about good old Rahul. Kept wondering why no body has wrote about Rahul's Captaincy this IPL! The empowering the "lesser-known" ones seems to have resulted in getting us the "find of this IPL". And that gives hope to may youngsters from lesser known places that there is place for them also in the Big Stage. And if you are gifted with talent and are ready to sweat it out, you can also make it big. Sir Jadeja is making rounds this IPL, he started from Royals, I guess there are a few guys capable of doing a few more Jadejas!!!

  • on May 15, 2013, 4:56 GMT

    What's this nonsense stereotype of Rajasthan Royals having no big names? people seem to have a fancy of talking about RR as a team that performs without any stars in their line up. Yes, the team has made stars out of a few unknown names, but that does mean that their team is bereft of big names. They are amongst the less star studded teams, no doubt, but with the likes of Shane Watson (one of the world's best all rounders), Brad Hodge (highest scorer in internations T20s), Shaun Tait (one of the world's fastest, even though they don't prefer to play him) and Ajinkya Rahane (India's future test middle order), not to forget Kevon Cooper, they do have a well-balanced side. If there is a team in the IPL that is not well balanced, it is the Sunrisers. RR ranks along side Punjab in terms of team strength. Yes, RR ha performed above the promise they have on paper, but please stop this damning tale of the team winning without any stars - its taking the stereotype too far.