Rahul Dravid, the Rajasthan Royals mentor, has said that Shane Watson's move to hand over the franchise's captaincy to Steven Smith has given him more freedom to perform his all-round duties. In only his second game after the decision, Watson made an unbeaten 104 off 59 deliveries and then picked up two wickets to take Royals to the playoffs with a win over Kolkata Knight Riders.
"Watson and Smith are quality people besides being quality cricketers. It was a collective decision in which Watto was an active part of," Dravid told the IPL website. "He realized that his role as a batsman and a bowler was a lot more important to us than as a captain. It was such a nice thing to see that we made the change and it allowed Watson to play freely. We saw the result (against Knight Riders). Credit to him that he recognised it and showed the willingness to take that call."
Smith said that Watson wanted to have a "clear mind" so that he could focus on executing his skills with bat and ball. Royals defended a total of 199 for 6 by nine runs in a tense chase as Knight Riders replied with 190 for 9. Watson went for 38 runs in his spell but dismissed Yusuf Pathan and Piyush Chawla in successive overs at the death. He admitted that he would have found it hard to concentrate on his own bowling if he had to worry about things such as making bowling changes during that chase.
"There is no doubt that (while) bowling (in) that second innings, if I had to captain that as well, that would have been very tough," Watson said. "It would have been pretty scattered with my mind. So I was happy that Steve Smith was doing it."