Shane Watson will continue to lead Rajasthan Royals © IANS
Shane Watson will continue to lead Rajasthan Royals © IANS

Mumbai: Rajasthan Royals are not depending on only a few match-winners but a whole lot of them this season to propel the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise’s fortunes, said captain Shane Watson.

“We have match winners all the way unlike in the past. To me that’s very exciting for the IPL season. With the quality we have, the most important thing is to get off to a good start. We have to hit the ground running and with the quality of players we have I think we will do it,” said Watson at a media conference. IPL 2015: Rahul Dravid, Ajinkya Rahane, Steven Smith, Shane Watson unveil new Rajasthan Royals jersey

The Australia all-rounder reached yesterday along with his World Cup-winning team mates Steve Smith and James Faulkner, the Man of the Match in the final against New Zealand. Also in the squad is Tim Southee, the Kiwi pacer who ended up on the losing side in the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and India’s middle order mainstay Ajinkya Rahane, who was part of the team that lost to the eventual champions in the semi finals at the SCG.  IPL 2015: Rajasthan Royals gear up to repeat 2008 history with another royal show

The squad is to train here at the Cricket Club of India’s Brabourne Stadium, home venue of three of their games, before leaving for Pune for their lung-opener — an away game against Kings XI Punjab on April 10. “Four of us were there in the World Cup final. It was a special occasion to be involved with three of us getting a share of the World Cup at home. After celebrating at home we’re fresh and ready for IPL,” said Watson, who is part of the Royals team since the inaugural IPL season in 2008 when he played under Shane Warne.

Asked about whether there would be a switch of batting roles in the IPL with Smith as was the case when the latter batted at his No. 3 position, Watson said it will be done as per the best interests of the team. “We will sit down and talk as to what are the best roles for us. We are very lucky to have incredibly talented batsmen in our squad,” he said.

Watson was also effusive in praising Rahane who had been on the opposite side to him over the last four months in Australia – first in the Test series, followed by the triangular ODI series and in the World Cup semi final.

“Ajinkya batted incredibly well in the Australian summer and since last IPL. It was incredible to watch. He’s got time to play shots and showed a wide range of shots even in Australian conditions where there is pace and bounce. He’s a crucial batsman in our batting line up. It should be a great season for him.”

Asked about the torrid spell he faced from Pakistan’s Wahab Riaz in the World Cup quarter finals, Watson said he was a bit lucky to survive that and was not keen for a repeat show that had the cricket fans engrossed.

“I am not keen on facing that type of bowling. In IPL we have lot of world class fast bowlers, for example Mitch Johnson who we will come up against in Pune in our first match. He’s a big challenge to face. There are world class fast bowlers all around though Wahab may not be there. I had a bit of luck along the way against Wahab,” said Watson.

Watson survived that spell after a lucky escape when he was dropped off a hook shot and made an unbeaten half century as Australia defeated Pakistan at the Adelaide Oval and entered the semi finals against India. On his part, Rahane said the short break of 5-6 days was good for him to recharge his batteries for the T20 tournament.

“The little time of 5-6 days I got was good. I was just with my family. I had just got married and was with my wife. I started training two days back and am really excited about the season. For me the four months I spent in Australia and the passion with which we played has given me confidence for the period ahead too.

“Right now we are looking to play for Rajasthan Royals. Later on we will see what will happen,” said Rahane when asked whether he will tip the Indian team on how to dismiss Smith who was a thorn in their flesh right through in Australia. “I am really happy for Smithy for what he did for Australia last summer. I enjoyed watching his bating and learnt a lot as opposition and am glad he’s playing for Rajasthan Royals,” he added.

Smith, who was Australia’s highest run getter in their triumphant World Cup run with 402 runs from eight games, said modern-day cricketers are used to quickly switch over from one format to another. “You go from one format to another. For me, Shane and Jimmy the key is in getting used to the conditions over the next couple of days here and getting ready for the first game. Test cricket is pinnacle and I do enjoy playing all formats. Here it’s about getting used to the bounce of the wicket. Hopefully it won’t be long,” he said.

Team mentor Rahul Dravid said the team would miss playing at Jaipur though they had now got used to playing in Ahmedabad last year. “We consider Ahmedabad and Bombay (Mumbai) as home. Obviously we miss the Jaipur ground with which we are familiar with. But even last year a lot of us went into Ahmedabad quite cold after playing in Dubai and it felt like playing all 14 games away. We are used to the conditions at Ahmedabad and at the CCI here.”

Dravid said the Royals had good team balance with a good set of all rounders to bat from 6-8. “Our team is balanced and strong. We have all rounders like Watson, Faulkner, Dhawal (Kulkarni) and Southee but in the IPL all eight teams are strong. But we need to perform in high intensity games and whichever team does that well wins.

The former India skipper conceded that after the high of the World Cup it will take time for all the players to adjust to the IPL so soon. “It’s not easy for a lot of guys in our team. The World Cup was an emotional roller coaster ride and it’s a huge and tough event to be part of. But there are other teams too having players who participated in the World Cup and are having a long season. It’s a challenge for lot of IPL teams to manage that.”

According to Dravid the current IPL format was good. “It’s a tough competition. Fourteen games are good enough to identify the top four teams and anything more than this will become a lot (difficult). Was just talking to Smithy. Australia had a tiring World Cup and from here they go to West Indies and then to the Ashes. They will be away for six months.”