New Delhi, (IANS): Rajasthan Royals skipper Rahul Dravid said that dealing with the spot-fixing allegations surrounding his team in the Indian Premier League (IPL) has been one of the toughest phases of his illustrious career.
Dravid on Wednesday praised his team for leaving the controversy behind and reaching the IPL playoffs.
The 40-year-old spoke his heart out after they beat Sunrisers Hyderabad on Wednesday to reach Qualifier 2. They now take on Mumbai Indians in Kolkata on Friday for a spot in the final.
"The win is important irrespective of whatever has happened off the field. It is a knock-out phase and if you don't play well, you pack your bags and go home," Dravid said at Kotla when asked about the significance of the win in the wake of the spot fixing episode.
Last week three Royals players S. Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan were arrested for spot fixing.
The Royals arrived in Delhi a night before the Eliminator, choosing to spend more time in Jaipur to avoid attention.
"I won't lie. It (spot fixing issue) was very tough on the team. It is something I have never experienced in my life. It was like a bereavement. There were so many emotions of disappointment, anger and sadness. The two days in Jaipur before this game were fantastic. We were in Hyderabad right after the incident and the boys were left in a daze," said the former India captain.
"We got that time we needed in Jaipur. There were some open and honest conversations amongst the players and the coaching staff. It was amazing for me to see the way cricketers came out and expressed their feelings. Paddy Upton (coach) and staff slowly planned this campaign to let the emotions go. I can't thank the support staff enough for their effort."
The Royals were reeling in the run-chase until Brad Hodge single-handedly took them to a memorable win.
"We were dead and buried. We needed something special and Brad Hodge provided that," said Dravid of the time when his side was 57/5 in 10 overs while chasing the 133-run target.
The arrest of the three bowlers had affected the team composition which led Dravid to pick an all-pace attack.
"We were short of spinners. We did not have much to choose from. It was not the ideal combination for this track but it again shows our resilience. The bowlers did a great job to restrict Hyderabad to 132. Whenever we were in trouble, somebody stood up to perform. I would like to believe the youngsters have been comfortable because we don't have a lot of stars in the team. Each one of them has clarity on their role," added the skipper.
Dravid was all praises for Upton.
"Paddy has been fantastic for us. Not only in the last week but right through the tournament. I have always been very keen on working with him. Last year, we could not have him; this year we have been fortunate. So many youngsters have come up to me and said he has been able to create great team atmosphere."
On being asked about reaching the playoffs, Dravid said: "If I was asked at the start of the season about reaching the playoffs, I would have said that I am satisfied, considering our team in comparison to the others. I feel there could be two more good days for us and then it would be a fairy tale end. Mumbai Indians are a very good side, full of stars. We will try to have some fun as we have nothing to lose."