In Dravid's huddle, every player gets chance to inspire
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On May 3, minutes before the Rajasthan Royals' match against KKR at Eden Gardens, Royals opener Ajinkya Rahane found himself facing an unusual challenge. The man who is used to letting his bat do most of his talking, was told to address his teammates in the on-field huddle.
For a couple of seconds, Rahane was at a loss for words, but he kept his nerve — and ultimately delivered a very powerful message about the virtues of teamwork and playing to one's strengths.
On another occasion, Australian Brad Hodge, the prankster in the Royals' camp, was persuaded by teammates to sing the Royals' song, the Hindi number Hum mein hai dum, composed as part of an ad campaign.
To the surprise — and great amusement — of the other players, Hodge actually pulled off a few lines without much trouble. The squad was in splits, and it helped kill pre-match nerves.
In Rahane's case, the huddle talk — with men like Rahul Dravid and Shane Watson listening attentively — put the opener at ease, and even though he scored only 6 and Rajasthan ultimately lost, did give him a lot of confidence.
Getting each one of his players to address the pre-match huddle by turn has been one of Dravid's innovations in this edition of the T20 tournament. In getting everyone — from the juniormost Sanju Samson to veterans like Watson and Hodge — to speak, Dravid has, in his own understated way, carried forward the team's tradition of empowering its players, and given each one of them the opportunity to inspire the others.
"There is no point in having the same voices talking," Dravid told The Sunday Express when asked about the unique tactic. "It's nice to get different players to contribute. I think the players revel in it and come up with some great stuff, especially the young Indian boys," he said.