Anand Subramaniam in Jaipur
Ajinkya is evolving as a cricketer: Watson
RR all-rounder opens up about his teammate and friend
In a candid post-match interview with clt20.com, Rajasthan Royals’ Shane Watson spoke about sharing the dressing room with his “good mate” Ajinkya Rahane, how “Jinks” the player is evolving with time. Watson also spoke about the eagerness of a side that wants to give their captain, Rahul Dravid, a perfect send off.
Excerpts from his interview:
Rajasthan Royals continue to dominate at their fortress. This must be very pleasing
(Smiles) An unbeaten record here this year is just amazing. To beat the Chennai Super Kings here twice over the last six months is pretty special because we know what a good team CSK is. We knew we had to beat CSK to be in the final and what better place to play them than on our home ground that we know so well.
When you walked in to bat, RR were three down. Did you and Ajinkya Rahane set mini-targets for yourselves? How do you both, as a pair, counter such situations?
When I came out to bat, we were still going well but we knew it was important to get a partnership going. When I bat and I see that I can take someone on, and I try to score as quickly as I can. There were times when I could not get the boundaries going, but Ajinkya was able to find the boundary in that period. In the scheme of the game, it was a really important partnership that we put together.
You have watched Ajinkya play over the last few years. Do you think he has evolved as a player?
Ajinkya is a highly skilled batsman, there is no doubt about that. The intent that he is showing is just amazing. He has been batting beautifully over the last few games and has shown intent from ball one to take on the bowlers. I believe that is when he is at his absolute best. It is great to be able to see the way he is batting like that and the areas where he hits the ball. He has got an amazing skill to hit the ball down the ground or over cover. He plays the short ball and spin equally well. He is continuing to evolve. He has not had many opportunities with the Indian side so far, but there is no doubt that he will get another opportunity very soon.
Tell us about his preparations before a game. And when did you actually feel Rahane was a quality batsman?
The way he prepares for a game is second to none. It is amazing to see how he bats in the nets. He absolutely loves batting and any moment he gets a chance to bat, he makes the most of it. He is always working on his game and finding ways to improve. The first time I saw him bat was in a tour match and he was one of the only ones who took on our quick bowlers and blazed his way to a century. He is a young guy still and he will only get better with time. Someone like a Shikhar Dhawan is maturing now and Ajinkya is as talented as Dhawan and he just needs a bit more time to evolve.
What kind of a partnership do you share with Rahane off the field?
Me and Ajinkya are very good friends. We talk a lot about life in general and about cricket. We do spend a lot of time together. He is a very impressive young guy who is always willing to learn and I enjoy spending time with him.
Who would you want to play in the final – Mumbai Indians or Trinidad & Tobago?
No matter whom we play, we have got to be at our best. Mumbai Indians and Trinidad & Tobago are high-quality teams and honestly it doesn’t really matter who our opposition is. We will just be looking to be at our best and put in another good performance and achieve success.
Winning the tournament would be a perfect send off for your captain Rahul Dravid?
We would love to be able to write a script of our choice. It will be Rahul Dravid’s last game and it will be such a special win if we can win the tournament for him and the franchise. Rahul has been an integral part of the Royals since the first time he came here and his legacy will always continue. But what a fitting way it will be for us to send Rahul off the way he deserves. Hopefully the fairytale does come true for us because he certainly does deserve it.