IPL Icon Dravid ready for Tweny20
Indian Premier League Icon Rahul Dravid is talking only Twenty20 these days.
The former India captain, who will lead Bangalore's Indian Premier League team, said he is excited at the prospect of playing in the inaugural Twenty20 tournament.
Speaking ahead of the launch of the team owned by business tycoon Dr Vijay Mallya in Bangalore on Wednesday, Dravid said: "It is exciting and I am looking forward to it. It is a new concept and I am lucky to be part of something at its inception. In the few years that I play I am sure I will get a chance to experience something new."
The Bangalore team, which will be called "Royal Challengers", will be coached by former India pacer and current bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad.
Interestingly, former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe has been signed up as the team's Chief Cricket Officer. He will be focusing on team's strategy.
Dravid, who was dropped from the Indian ODI team last year and has not had a taste of Twenty20 internationals, said he is well prepared for the upcoming IPL tournament, scheduled to begin on April 18.
Eight teams from across the country will play each other on a home and away basis, with the top teams clashing in the best-of-three finals.
"It will be interesting to see how it [IPL] goes. It is a totally new concept and whether it will succeed or not we will know in time. It has got some good things going for it, in the sense that firstly it is a new form of the game and obviously it is a short version of the game. It also brings in for the first time international stars in the domestic game. It is still a domestic tournament with seven domestic players in the eleven and four international players only," he said.
He said Bangalore boasts of a good all-round team with presence of top players in ace leg-spinner Anil Kumble, South Africa's Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher and Dale Steyn, India pacer Zaheer Khan and Pakistan's Misbah-ul-Haq to name a few.
"We picked players whom we thought would gel in; players who believe in the concept of the team and I think more or less we got that. Speaking to some of the international players we picked I think they are very excited to come to Bangalore and be a part of our team. We also want to make them feel a part of our team too," the right-hander added.
So what does he think about sharing a dressing room with players from different countries and some junior players?
"I am really excited to share the dressing room for a month and half with these talented international players whether it is [Jacques] Kallis or Mark Boucher or [Nathan] Bracken or Cameron White or anyone of the international guys. We were very conscious of the fact that everyone is going to come at the last minute because of the international schedule and there is not going to be much time. So whatever bonding is to be done will have to be done travelling on the tour so it is going to be interesting," he quipped.
Talking about the choice of his players who were selected at the first IPL auction, Dravid said it wasn't easy since it was a first such auction and it moved very fast.
"It was a different kind of experience and something very unique. It was different, I can't say I felt happy or thrilled, it was something new. Things were happening so fast because the pace of auction was so fast and the dynamics were changing so quickly, you could never really be sure what was happening. I was so caught up in it that I didn't have much time to reflect on it," he said.
"There were eight teams and everyone was bidding and it was tough to get everyone you wanted. But the rules of the auction were such that every team will go away thinking that they have a good chance, and that they have a good team. The rules were such that it ensured that people had a fair go at the pie and we are very happy with the players we got," the veteran batsman added.
Dravid also revealed why the young Indian players fetched a good price at the auction.
"We recognized the fact in the first auction that the Indian players are very important and we were trying to get as many Indian players as possible.
At the end of the day, seven Indians have to play in the eleven, so we were very keen to get the best possible Indians we could but we had our restrictions."
The Karnataka batsman is however apprehensive about how fans will react to the first-ever IPL tournament, which will be played under floodlights.
"We will just need to see how the fans react to it, how the people react to it. It has never been tried before, the concept of people supporting their city, it is interesting. People who are in it are in it for a long time. I think it is gonna take some time like everything else to develop. Most importantly if the quality of cricket is good then we will have people come to the stadiums or watch it on television," Dravid said.
By the looks of it the Chinnaswamy stadium will be houseful when the IPL kicks off on April 18 with the hosts taking on Shah Rukh Khan's Kolkata Knight Riders.