'Watson in line to succeed Dravid as Royals' captain'
Rajasthan Royals' chief coach Paddy Upton has backed Australian all-rounder Shane Watson to succeed the just-retired Rahul Dravid as captain, but said the franchise would want to retain the former India skipper in some capacity.
Dravid played the last competitive game of his celebrated career when he walked out to lead Rajasthan Royals in the final of the Champions League Twenty20 against Mumbai Indians, in New Delhi, on Sunday night.
The match, which Royals lost by 33 runs, was also the last for batting great Sachin Tendulkar in Mumbai Indians colours.
'Watson epitomises the Rajasthan Royals spirit'
"Shane Watson has been there from the beginning and he epitomises the Rajasthan Royals spirit; he places the team's needs ahead of his own needs. He is incredibly good with the younger players and is someone who bridges all the gaps in terms of the diversity of players we have. Maybe there will be someone else, but he would be a candidate," said Upton.
"Rahul has been very integral to the way we have set things up at Royals. He is very approachable and we would very much like to have him involved going forward in some way or the other," he added.
'He (Dravid) was playing his last game, but he put the team ahead of himself'
In the final, Dravid came to bat at No. 8 with his team precariously placed at 159 for six in their chase of a mammoth 203.
The ploy did not work for Rajasthan, as he scored just one run before his leg stump was flattened by a yorker from Nathan Coulter-Nile.
Upton said the decision was taken keeping in mind the chase and Dravid's strengths.
"We knew we had to go hard at the start and that doesn't play into Rahul's strengths. So we decided to go with Kusal Perera. It's a testimony to the kind of person Rahul is.
"He said that when we are chasing 12 to 15 runs an over, it makes sense to put other people who are more equipped to do it ahead of him. He was playing his last game, but he put the team ahead of himself," said Upton.
Upton justified Rajasthan's decision to field
Upton said their back-end batsmen let them down in the crunch game.
"We needed to restrict them to 160 or so, but we failed to do so. In the first 15 to 16 overs when we batted, we matched that with Sanju (Samson) and (Ajinkya) Rahane, but the difference was that our back-end batsmen didn't deliver for us this time.
"Had one of Watson, (Stuart) Binny, (Dishant) Yagnik or (Kevon) Cooper just stayed with Rahane for another 15 to 18 balls, it would be Rohit Sharma who would be sitting here instead of me."
Upton also justified Rajasthan's decision to field after winning the toss.
'Samson has shown everyone he has the skill'
"We are quite comfortable chasing and we noticed that Mumbai prefer to chase because of their batting firepower. It was playing into our strength and against their preference," he said.
Upton also praised Samson for his 33-ball 60 knock and said the young wicketkeeper-batsman has a bright future.
"He's shown everyone he has the skill. He's got an incredibly mature head on his shoulders. I see him as being very sound and solid. He is a very promising prospect for Indian cricket."
Image: Sanju Samson
Tambe 'deserved it'
Royals' leg-spinner Pravin Tambe, who received the 'Golden Wicket' award for his 12 scalps from five matches to finish as the highest wicket-taker in the tournament, said he would have been happier if his team had won the final.
"I am really happy to have received the award but I would have been happier if my team won the final."
He said Dravid's words of encouragement meant more than the prize.
"After getting the award, he said 'you deserve it'. Those words meant a lot more than this prize. I have got a lot of guidance from a lot of senior players here."
Image: Pravin Tambe