The victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad meant a world to Rajasthan Royals, who had been at the centre of spot-fixing scandal that reared its ugly head last week. Captain Rahul Dravid, a statesman cricketer, described the “tough” phase as “bereavement” in some ways.
Three of the Royals’ players, including S Sreesanth, were arrested for spot fixing and left their colleagues in a daze.
"I would not lie, it was a very tough phase for us. It was a blow to the team. I have never experienced anything like it. It’s like a bereavement in some ways," Dravid told reporters.
“You feel real sadness, disappointment and anger; there are so many emotions. We had a day off after the Mumbai Indians match and the next day, we were playing Sunrisers in Hyderabad and everyone was in a daze.
“I think the two days we had in Jaipur after that game were fantastic. We spent two-three days in Jaipur and there were some really open, honest conversations among players and coaching staff.
"A lot of emotions were shared. In some ways, it was amazing for me to see the way cricketers came out and expressed their feelings," he said.
Dravid was profusely appreciative of coach Paddy Upton and coaching staff for preparing the team for the play-offs.
“Paddy and the coaching staff slowly handled this campaign. We knew we had four days and we gave a couple of days to people to let go emotions. We started focussing on the team day before yesterday and then zeroed down our focus on to this game,” Dravid said.
“We landed in Delhi just on the night before the game. I can’t thank my support staff enough, Paddy and his team the way they managed the last four days was great.”
Dravid said their four-wicket victory was important regardless of what happened with them. “It’s the knock-out stage of the tournament, you lose and you pack your bags and go home. There are no second chances in these types of games. It’s nice to get over the line and win the game.
Royals were 57/5 at one stage before Brad Hodge’s brilliant 29-ball 54 not out pulled them out of trouble. “I knew we needed something special, we were dead and buried. Brad Hodge provided that. I think it was one of the finest T20 innings in a low-scoring game chasing,” Dravid said.
“I think the bowlers did a really good job to restrict them to 132. They were a dangerous team and we did a good job.”
Royals next play Mumbai Indians in Kolkata. “Mumbai are never easy, they are a very good side. There are all stars. There’s nothing to lose, go out there, have some fun and see what happens.”
On his future once the IPL gets over, Dravid said: “I have not thought that this would be my last IPL and there would be no more cricket after this. There is a couple of months’ time for the Champions League,” Dravid said.
“Let me finish this T20 tournament, then I will sit down with the franchise and see what they want to do.”