File photo of Rajasthan Royals captain Rahul Dravid batting during IPL 6. (BCCI Image)
Rajasthan Royals are ready to bury their unholy recent past - which saw three of their players being banned by the BCCI - and their inspirational skipper Rahul Dravid says his team can go the distance if they play to their potential.
The 2013 Indian Premier League semi-finalists will kick off their campaign against the reigning IPL champions Mumbai Indians and will be pretty confident of winning start in their backyard - the Sawai Mansingh Stadium.
"If we keep up the performance that we had in the IPL and the spirit remains the same and if we play to our potential, I hope that we will stay in contention," Dravid told the tournament's official website ahead of Rajasthan's opening match on Saturday.
Dravid said the team is well oiled with some cricket under their belt coming into the tournament. "Most of our boys have been playing cricket. If you talk about our international players, Shane Watson and James Faulkner have arrived after playing for Australia, while Ajinkya Rahane, Ashok Menaria, Sanju Samson have been playing for India A/Under-23 India side, etc. At least eight-nine of the boys have been playing cricket continuously after the IPL," he said. "Those who hadn't practiced much had come a week before and we have been practicing. So we are ready."
Rajasthan coach Paddy Upton was particularly excited about the young players in the squad. "I think we have been very fortunate that a lot of our campaign's success is based around the success of the young players. There are a lot of them. Sanju Samson is exciting and he has done really nicely. Not that he is that young, but Dishant Yagnik has done nicely. He has played only one or two games and he is definitely not young, but Pravin Tambe has shown a lot of character and energy," the coach said.
It will be the last time that Rahul Dravid will play competitive cricket, which makes it a special tournament for him and the Rajasthan franchise. "You want to play good cricket irrespective of the fact that it is your first or last tournament," Dravid said. "We have played well here. Boys are happy to play here [in Jaipur]. The crowd support is good. Our boys are comfortable here in Jaipur, so I hope we will put up a good performance this time as well."