Rajasthan Royals mentor Rahul Dravid says his side does not mind being called "underdogs" but their fighting brand of cricket makes them a tough side to beat in the Indian Premier League. Dravid, who led the team to the playoffs last season, said his side's stress has been to assign clear roles for each player and try to execute plans on the field. (Also read: Rajasthan star Brad Hodge completes 6000 T20 runs)
"If you look at our team on paper, you would call us underdogs ... because we don't have those stars. But we don't mind the tag. It does not bother us anymore. We know every team is a good team and we have to perform. We don't think too far ahead," Dravid said.
"We get different people to perform. We don't rely on a few stars. People who play against us know that we will always fight. We might not win every game, but we will always fight and compete. We will get the best out of our talent. I think that is something that you could classify as RR, and probably call it the RR brand of cricket," he said.
Asked how different his new role as mentor from leading the side is, Dravid said: "The pressure is a lot less because I don't captain the team. It is about strategy and planning. It involves working with the likes of Paddy Upton, Zubin Bharucha and Monty Desai, and trying to create a good environment for the players so that they get what they need."
"And in the end, they have to do their job to perform in the middle. So we just try and create a good environment and give them a chance to perform and play at their best. And we do a lot of the planning and preparation for them, so they have enough information when they go into the game. It gives them the best chance to succeed," he was quoted as saying by the official IPL website.
The former Indian captain said what matters in T20 cricket was the clarity of roles of the players and execution of plans.
"Roles are important. We sit down with players at the start of every season and tell them why they are in this team and what we think their roles would be. Of course, there needs to be a certain amount of flexibility, but still we explain to them where exactly they might be batting and bowling and what they should practice and how we feel they should practice," he said.
"So at least we are giving them that information about what their roles might be in this team and how they should go about executing those roles. And then it is up to them; they have to do the difficult part, which is executing the skills," Dravid said.
Dravid, however, said that he did not believe in pep talks and last-minute instructions.
"If you try telling people something at the last moment, you know you have lost them. Last moment is not meant to say anything but to just keep quiet and let them do what they want. A lot of the preparation happens a lot before. On the day of the game, honestly, we don't do much. We just let people be and let them play their game."
"If they have prepared well and practiced well and if they feel confident about their game and they have got clear plans, clear roles and clear strategies, they will go out there and be able express themselves. You can't give pep talks. I personally don't believe in pep talks and speeches and those things. We don't do any of that here. If anyone needs a pep talk and speech at the last minute, well then he is at the wrong place," he said.
Asked how the IPL has evolved in terms of competition and innovations, Dravid said, "It's a fantastic tournament. There is tough competition. Every side is tough. Even though some of the teams are not winning as much, there are some very good players in them."
"Every game is tough and you have to be well prepared and switch on for every contest, because if you are not, you could easily be beaten."
On his thoughts about Shane Watson's captaincy, Dravid said, "I don't think you need to groom Watto. I think he's been a fantastic captain. Both on and off the field, he has been superb. He connects really well even with the Indian boys. He obviously connects with the overseas players."
"But I am impressed with the way he has connected with so many of the Indian players. He is obviously very respected. He is very approachable. People feel very relaxed around him. And on the field as well, tactically he has been very good. So I think he has been a really good captain and the results have shown," he added.
The RR mentor says the fighting brand of cricket played by his team makes them a tough side to beat.