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Interview

Prajakta Pawar in Jaipur

I wanted to stay till the end: Rahane

RR opener rues not carrying his bat through during win over Volts

They ended the Otago Volts’ unbeaten streak and continued their own perfect run at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium. Having won all their home games in 2013, the Rajasthan Royals are looking to carry the momentum into the semi-finals of the Karbonn Smart Champions League Twenty20.

The Royals, who have been cruising along, were given a tough fight by the Volts in their last league game. And although they faced a slight setback in the middle overs while chasing the 140-run target, they got past the finish line with five balls to spare. Earlier, their bowlers had done an excellent job to put the visitors under pressure by claiming quick wickets and restricting them to 139. Brought back into the side, Rahul Shukla claimed three in a first-over maiden wicket to tip the balance in RR’s favour.

And later, as they took guard, the hosts too lost their way in the middle, but opener Ajinkya Rahane who was in sublime touch crafted 52 off 48 balls and held the innings together. Even experienced campaigner Brad Hodge once again came to the Royals’ rescue and took the team across the line with a 52 not-out.

While speaking to clt20.com after their four-wicket win, Rahane credited the bowlers for setting the game up for RR and even appreciated Hodge’s knock. Although he was absolutely delighted with the outcome, the opener said that he wished he could have stayed till they end and seen his team through.

Excerpts from his interview:

How happy is the dressing room after an unbeaten run in the Group stage?

Of course we are extremely happy and the atmosphere in the team is very good, to have won today and to have gone unbeaten in the tournament so far. And it is a good thing that we will be able to play the semi-final in Jaipur. I am lucky to be representing the Rajasthan Royals and it is a good start again.

Was it a tough match?

I wouldn’t call it tough, but yes it was challenging. When Hodge came in to bat, we decided to take some time and play our normal game – what comes instinctively. Luckily our plan worked and everyone saw the way Hodgey played. I think it was the best T20 cricket that I have seen for the Rajasthan Royals team.

Would you say that patience was also a factor today?

Yes it was important to be patient and stay calm at one stage since we had lost three-four wickets quickly. At one point we had thought we would win the match easily but as we all know it is a funny game. My plan was to stay cool and not panic; I had a very experienced player Hodge batting with me at the other end, so I was trying to rotate the strike and play my game.

Was it difficult to bat out there?

They bowled in good areas. The ball was getting some movement; but it wasn’t too difficult. They bowled well in the middle overs.

Speaking about bowling, tell us about the RR attack and when and how was it decided to play Rahul Shukla today?

The decision was taken by Rahul Bhai (Dravid) and Paddy Upton. They saw the wicket and decided to play him. He obviously bowls at a good pace and did what Rahul Bhai had told him – to bowl wicket-to-wicket like he normally does and go for the wickets. Fortunately he got three in his first over so the momentum shifted towards us.

He bowled intelligently and the pace and line and length at which he bowled was good. He took good wickets, which were very important for us at that point because we know that Brendon McCullum as well as the other players in the Volts team are very dangerous in T20.

While strategising what weakness of the Volts had RR picked upon?

More than their weaknesses we were looking to focus on our strengths. We had done well in the last three games. So to take positive things from those three games and play in this match was important.

Why do teams that win the toss decide to bat first here?

Results have been better while chasing. We know the angles of this ground and how the wicket will play, what the outfield is like and what shots we can play. We have a good idea about the ground. Nevertheless, we have won here batting first as well. Teams look at the results at the ground and then strategise accordingly.

What would you say about your knock, which was very elegant?

Initially I was timing the ball well. Then the situation was such that I to build the innings, rotate the strike and stitch a partnership. So that was my plan – to build a partnership with Hodge and we know that in the last four-five overs we can chase whatever number of runs we have to get. Initially I was enjoying the way I was timing and then the way I rotated the strike to stitch the partnership was a good learning experience. But maybe I could have remained not-out with Hodge and taken the team to victory. So that will remain at the back of my mind.

What did you think was a par total?

I think 165-170 would have been a challenging total. But our bowlers bowled well in good areas and with good strategy. So credit goes to the bowlers, and it was a good team effort.

One game away from the final. Your thoughts

We are not thinking too far ahead and are just focusing on the next game and we will again concentrate on our strengths.

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