Jaipur: Rajasthan Royals captain Rahul Dravid has brushed aside talks that temperamental pacer S Sreesanth was rested for the match against Mumbai Indians to avoid a possible confrontation with Harbhajan Singh, saying it was tactical move aimed at managing the workload of players.
Sreesanth and Harbhajan were slated to meet for the first time on Wednesday in the Indian Premier League after the former reopened the 'slapgate' wounds with his explosive tweets.
However, Sreesanth, who returned with figures of 2-20 off his four overs against Kings XI in Royals' previous game against Kings XI Punjab, was surprisingly left out of the match against Mumbai and spinner Ankeet Chavan was drafted in.
"No there was nothing like the 'Bhajji factor' (behind Sreesanth's omission)," Dravid said at the post-match press conference on Wednesday night.
"Sreesanth has played four matches and has performed well. We still have a long way to go and we want to keep him fit throughout this long tournament. He can't play all the matches," the Rajasthan skipper clarified.
Sreesanth reopened the 2008 Slapgate chapter a few days ago by making explosive claims that the entire incident was planned and that his former India team-mate Harbhajan Singh was a "backstabbing person".
Talking about Rajasthan's emphatic 87-run win over the formidable Mumbai Indians, Dravid said their strategies worked to perfection.
"The first six overs in our batting and bowling were decisive. (Shane) Watson and (Ajinkya) Rahane had put 62 on board and while defending, we reduced Mumbai to 26 for 2 by picking up the crucial wickets of Sachin (Tendulkar) and (Ricky) Ponting. This helped us tighten the noose," he said.
Dravid surprisingly opened the bowling with two spinners Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan, and his ploy struck gold.
While Chandila picked up the crucial wickets of Tendulkar and Ponting cheaply, Chavan gave away just 10 runs from his three overs.
"People tend to believe that I am traditional in my approach but we have opened the attack with Chandila and Chavan earlier too. Yes we promoted Dishant Yagnik up the order and the ploy worked as he gave the much required thrust to the innings," Dravid added.
Dravid himself has been in good touch and has scored two half centuries so far in the tournament, but against Mumbai he demoted himself and sent Dishant, who scored a 24-ball 34, up the order.
"There is no fixed slot. If we had lost quick wickets I would have come in as number three. But, with runs on the board we felt that a left hander like Dishant Yagnik can provide us the impetus and he came true to expectation," Dravid said.
Story first published on: Thursday, 18 April 2013 11:13 IST