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Alive & kicking

Former India skipper Dravid looks more proactive and aggressive. Khurram Habib reports.

cricket Updated: Apr 08, 2012 01:46 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times

Calmness and low profile are words we associate with Rahul Dravid. When Johan Botha was asked about Dravid's captaincy, he remarked, “He is different from (Shane) Warne. Warne tried a lot of new things and was aggressive, but Dravid is calm.”

But, on Friday night, there was unbridled emotion in the way he celebrated Shaun Marsh's catch.

Perhaps, it was because Dravid, who recently announced his retirement from all forms of international cricket, had been dropping catches with monotonous regularity of late.

Perhaps, it was because he is now the leader of a young Rajasthan Royals' side and the role demands that he show a lot of aggression and enthusiasm. On Saturday morning, the Rajasthan Royals skipper, accompanied by Ajinkya Rahane, S Sreesanth and Shaun Tait, went for the launch of a sponsor's product in Jaipur.

And while Dravid seemed clueless about the product, popular among youngsters, Botha said he was far better for the youngsters than Warne, "as Dravid talks a lot with the youngsters".

Ajinkya Rahane seconded Botha's thoughts, saying, "Dravid is my role model."

It might sound strange that the man, respected for his technique, is forced to play heaves and other unorthodox shots, but players say his presence is needed. In this mix of the old and the new, the likes of Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag have a big role to play in nurturing their side.

And, the crowd too is loving it. On Friday, when Sourav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag came out for their respective teams, they drew huge applause.

It is helping that the new generation is being 'introduced' to spectators with the seniors around. The Dravid-Rahane combine, the other night, was just the mix everyone wanted to see.

People came to see Dravid and they got introduced to the mercurial Rahane, whose stint with the India team was short-lived.

While Dravid is sitting pretty with a win, the Kolkata Knight Riders' skipper, Gautam Gambhir, would be looking to erase the home loss on Sunday. The Delhi opener's captaincy last year took KKR to the last-four. This year, he was removed as India vice-captain for the Asia Cup and must be looking for ways to succeed.

He was seen practicing hard at the nets. It must be tough managing a side that has international stars like Jacques Kallis and Brett Lee and inconsistent players like Yusuf Pathan. But the Delhi star is a gritty man and has plenty of resources.

Wasim's got the punch

Wasim Akram can still get a few to rip. At the KKR nets on Saturday, the former Pakistan speedster bowled at Manoj Tiwary, his deliveries moving, a few coming back to trouble the batsman. Wonder if Gautam Gambhir & Co. is planning to play him in a match. He sure won't let them down.

The pitch

After the pitch controversy last year when Shane Warne was disappointed, the track this year looks good and played well in the first game.

Curator Taposh Chatterjee, who helped prepare a wonderful wicket for the Duleep Trophy final at Indore earlier this year, said, “Last year, we didn't have much time to prepare the wicket here. The IPL started just after the World Cup. This time, we got time.”

First Published: Apr 08, 2012 00:03 IST