O Captain! My Captain!

Rahul Dravid has inspired some great performances from a bunch of unknowns

Sachin Baby of Rajasthan Royals (unsighted) and Stuart Binny of Rajasthan Royals are congratulated by Ajinkya Rahane …

Rahul Dravid has always been about calm accumulation rather than explosive hit-or-miss batting.

The sheer volume of his runs and stories of hard work and dedication to the sport make him an ideal role model.

And on the evidence of the Rajasthan Royals’ performances this season, he has again proven himself to be an excellent leader.

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He has used himself as a floater in the batting order, coming out anywhere between No. 1 and 8, but has done very well with 361 runs in 12 games at a strike rate of 114.96. His four half-centuries have been masterclasses in finding the gaps and timing the ball, and have allowed other batsmen like Ajinkya Rahane and Shane Watson to step up the run rate.

Like Rahane last season, 18-year-old Sanju Samson has also benefited from sharing a dressing room with Dravid, showing a fearless approach to strokemaking.

Dravid’s state mate, Stuart Binny, while no spring chicken, has been given a clearly defined role — that of the middle-order blaster — and has flourished.

The bowlers, too, have reaped the rewards of Dravid’s fieldplacing and strategy. Emerging Aussie pacer James Faulkner commended Dravid and coach Paddy Upton for creating a positive environment. Ajit Chandila has continued to be an effective off-spinner, while Kevon Cooper has also been a game-changer.

The Royals have eight wins and look set to make the playoffs.

If they go on to win the IPL again, it would be the crowning glory for Dravid and his ‘leading by example’ school of captaincy.

The last time Rajasthan Royals were so comfortably placed in the IPL playoffs race was back in the inaugural season in 2008, when they went on to win the title. Then, as now, Rajasthan were working on a tight budget, and had built a successful team of unknowns around a few international stars and an influential captain. Rahul Dravid might be the polar opposite of Shane Warne in terms of personality, but like the latter did in the past, he has totally galvanised the Royals.


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