Rajasthan Royals captain Rahul Dravid disappointed as winning KKR's captain Gautam Gambhir looks on after their IPL 5 match in Kolkata. PTI Photo by Swapan Mahapatra
For almost a quarter of a century, the Chinnaswamy Stadium has been the favourite venue for Rahul Dravid. Despite having retired from international cricket, the stalwart will cherish the chance to bid farewell to his home fans when he leads the Rajasthan Royals against the Royal Challengers Bangalore in an IPL group tie on Sunday.
"It's exciting to come back and play here. It's nice to play at the ground I have so many fond memories of and in front of the people who have seen me growing up. Last year, our game against RCB here was washed out, so I'm looking forward to it this time," he said on Saturday.
No doubt it will add to the emotions he has endured over the last couple of months. But if Dravid feels any burden going into the game, it could be because of two reasons - sitting in the visitors' dressing room for the first time, and feeling the heat after the team's two consecutive defeats.
And the hectic IPL schedule is likely to prevent Rajasthan Royals from putting their best foot forward. When they take the field on Sunday, they would be playing their third game in five days, which includes two travel days.
With back-to-back defeats, the tie may not just spur the captain to leave his cherished venue on a high but also push the teammates to help Dravid bid goodbye to his home ground on a winning note. Despite the Dravid factor being discussed around the Chinnaswamy Stadium, the home team was not too bothered about the return of its former captain. Instead, the ghost of Thursday's loss in Chennai was still looming large over the hosts. No wonder then, as they had a full-fledged practice session under lights on Saturday, R Vinay Kumar, who conceded 15 runs in the last over to gift CSK victory, had an extended bowling session.
And instead of rolling his arm over, Virat Kohli, who would be remembered as Albie Morkel's victim after the left-hander smashed 28 runs off the penultimate over bowled by him, preferred to focus on what he does best - taking a toll on the bowlers. One thing is for sure, irrespective of the result, there will be a standing ovation more than once on Sunday as Dravid has his final fling at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
"I still enjoy the game, enjoy working with youngsters," Dravid had said after the defeat in Kolkata. "I don't know if this is my last match (at Eden), but I hope to return and play here or watch a game." One hopes, Dravid has something similar to say about the Chinnaswamy Stadium.