For someone who has been a follower, supporter and ardent fan of the city of dreams throughout all seasons of the IPL, being in awe of another team this year is almost an anticlimax of sorts. But the Rajasthan Royals do that to you. They have the “X” factor; they compel you to automatically cheer for them every single time they’re victorious; no matter where you belong. No other team has had this kind of an impact, I assume, which is exactly why they are the deserving candidates for the crown this season.
It’s hard not to sit up and take notice of a team that is led by one of the greatest ambassadors of the game, Rahul Dravid. All these years of watching him toil in sweat for his nation has instilled in me a sense of admiration and respect, and to watch his side go down isn't part of the routine. The Royals have slowly and steadily climbed their way to the top without making fuss, quite Dravid-like. What’s even more heartening is the teamwork, dedication and commitment the team showcases every time they make their way out. While other teams bask their way to glory by banking on selective performers, Rajasthan have seen contributions coming in from each of their players in different situations. They aren't a side with the biggest of stars, they don’t believe in being flashy; they do not, by any means, underestimate their opponents. One of their biggest plus points has been the form of their skipper, and the sheer joy of watching him bat like a teenager is beyond words. For someone who spent most of his life playing the longer formats of the game, Dravid has adapted beautifully to T20 cricket and is a solid example of age being just a number.
Another striking feature of the Rajasthan Royals has been the inclusion of local talent right from the inaugural season. More and more youngsters have been given opportunities, and it has worked well for the team more often than not. Rajasthan have truly justified IPL's tagline, “Where talent meets opportunity” by unearthing some serious cricketers and encouraging them to conquer the cricketing world. Putting team before self has been one of the biggest qualities of someone like Dravid, and that explains why he chose to promote young Dishant Yagnik and Sanju Samson ahead of him in the last few matches. The man doesn't seem to put a foot wrong, and his intentions are pretty clear. He loves to go the winning way, and while he does, he carries his team along comfortably. We saw that when he played for India, and we've seen it now. Nothing has changed; he remains a team man, and treats even a Twenty20 tournament with utmost seriousness. Pressure doesn't get to him, and even if it does, there are enough tricks in the bag. It is this attribute that sets him and his side apart. His belief in his teammates has not only raised their morale, but it has also motivated them to give their best. Dravid brings the much-needed calm and leads his team to believe that no mountain is too high to scale. It is almost like he is the preacher, and his teammates are loyal disciples who only know one path – the Dravid path.
The Royals are a fascinating side, it’s like they’re waving a magic wand and we as spectators, are completely engulfed by it. It is heart-breaking to watch them lose and nobody has a problem with them winning. Probably the only team to evoke such emotions, they certainly don’t deserve to go home without the ultimate glory!