Like a ship in the eye of a storm, the Rajasthan Royals (RR) dropped anchor to prevent further damage as the spot fixing saga refused to die down on Friday. While the Royals maintained a constant vigil on the latest developments in the scandal, a curfew restricted the team's movements.
As the day progressed, the ambiguity of Rajasthan’s situation only piled on. “We've been watching news since morning. We'd rather not think about more players being involved before our evening match,” an RR player exclaimed to HT.
In order to avoid communication with strangers, the team management had ordered the players to be confined to their rooms. Throughout the day, the hotel saw appearances from the Sunrisers Hyderabad's players but the visitors remained absent.
HT also learnt that post a conversation that Rahul Dravid and Paddy Upton had, they convened a team meeting. In the hour-long meeting, Dravid tried to develop an atmosphere that does not remind his team of the trauma they had been hit with in a quest to bring the campaign back on track. “He did not touch on the spot fixing bit, no one spoke about it. Dravid maintained through the meeting that we must go out on the field and fight and play the way we have,” a player said.
When it was time to take the field, the Royals translated their hurt into enthusiasm. James Faulkner's second five-wicket haul, helped restrict the Sunrisers Hyderabad to 136 for nine. However, they faced a few hiccups with the bat in response to the target on a sluggish wicket.
Throughout the Hyderabad innings, the Rajasthan players were throwing themselves around. If Ajinkya Rahane's diving catch to dismiss key man Shikhar Dhawan was testimony to the supreme fielding efforts, exaggerated celebrations from the normally subdued Mumbaikar showed how much a strong performance meant for this team in distress.
Players running in from all corners of the ground to motivate the bowler and fielders was a common sight, as were the extravagant high-fives. A Royals team determined to storm out of the spot fixing fracas was on display.