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IPL 2014: Rahul Dravid’s mentoring continues to work wonders for Indian youngsters

Rahul Dravid and Paddy Upton have nurtured the Rajasthan Royals side into one of the most powerful sides in the IPL © IANS
Rahul Dravid and Paddy Upton have nurtured the Rajasthan Royals side into one of the most powerful sides in the IPL © IANS

With the Rajasthan Royals (RR) doing far better than Mumbai Indians (MI) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in IPL 7, Rahul Dravid seems to be winning the battle of the mentors. R Vishal looks at how Rahul Dravid the mentor has benefitted the young players of the Rajasthan set-up.

The budget team of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Rajasthan Royals (RR) continues to churn out talented Indian players. Karun Nair’s solid knock against Delhi Daredevils (DD) has given birth to yet another such player. Nair attributed his knock to Indian batting legend Rahul Dravid’s magical ability to work on budding young players’ technique and ready them for top level cricket.

Rajasthan Royals had tarnished the legacy that they had built since the inception of the tournament with a spate of off-field issues in IPL 2013. All was not lost as rookie Kerala wicketkeeper-batsman, Sanju Samson showed remarkable application and maturity that belied his tender age.

Samson has on innumerable occasions sung praises of his mentor, Dravid, and his man-management skills after his whirlwind last season — earning a place in the 30-man probables list for India for ICC World T20 2014  underlined how highly rated the 19-year old is by the selectors. Now, Samson is a key element in the Rajasthan setup and big things are expected of him every time he walks to the crease.

In 1991, an 18 year-old batsman was looking to cement his place in the Karnataka set-up and veteran Indian all-rounder Roger Binny, who was in the final leg over of his cricketing days, might have had words of advice to the gawky teenager. In a classic case of role-reversal, it was Dravid, in his last years of cricket overseeing Roger’s son Stuart’s all-round abilities. Stuart is now armed with a smattering of international experience and is a reliable performer for Rajasthan.

Perhaps the biggest success story to come out from Dravid’s stables so far is the silken Ajinkya Rahane, who now regularly commands a place Team India’s playing XI and dons the role of a senior member in the Rajasthan setup. Rahane’s calm demeanour and copybook technique is a throwback to Dravid’s playing days and the opener has been going from strength-to-strength in the IPL 2014 and for India. Just like Dravid’s hallmark of adapting quickly, Rahane has also acquitted himself to being tossed and thrown around in the batting order.

Sunrisers Hyderabad’s KL Rahul, who has also impressed with his all-round strokeplay, has credited Dravid as a father figure, and the prolific Karnataka youngster confessed to having regular chats to his illustrious namesake about his technique and approach at the crease.

It’s not just the Indian contingent alone that has benefited from Dravid’s therapeutic effects. Pacer James Faulkner and even skipper Shane Watson have talked about Dravid playing a big part in the Rajasthan dug out and in their own careers, both of which are on the ascendency for Australia.

Dravid is regularly called to coaching camps and clinics across the country for pointers on different aspects of batting. Given the selflessness and magnanimity of the man, he willingly imparts knowledge and still remains oblivious to his iconic stature in India and world cricket, as well as to his massive legion of fans.

Rajasthan continues to be a refining school of Indian talent in the IPL and with one of the greatest No 3s in the game’s history nurturing and taking great care of the young turks, the day might not be far before Dravid takes over the mantle of being the coach of India.

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(R Vishal is a journalist and alumni of Asian College of Journalism. He can be followed on Twitter @vishhell)

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