The winners of the inaugural season of Indian Premier League, Rajasthan Royals will be looking to repeat the glory of 2008 in this year’s IPL. Almost always rated as underdogs, Rajasthan have bought numerous young Indian players to the fore. Having won the tournament under the captaincy of Australian legend Shane Warne, Rajasthan Royals were not able to repeat the feat in the next six seasons. The closest they came was in 2013, when they were ousted by eventual winners Mumbai Indians in Qualifier 2. Last year, Rajasthan lost a place in the knockouts by a the skin of their teeth after a heartbreak loss to Mumbai in Wankhede in the very last group match.
Blend of Experience and Youth
As always been a hallmark to their squad over the years, this season too, the Rajasthan Royals have a good blend of experience and youth. Australian all-rounder Shane Watson will be captaining the side filled with seasoned players like Ajinkya Rahane, James Faulkner, Steven Smith and Tim Southee. Exciting young nuggets like Sanju Samson, Deepak Hooda, Karun Nair will be assets too. It’s not just the players but the backroom staff too that adds to the mix. Legendary Rahul Dravid who was the skipper in the last season has taken up the mentoring role in IPL-8. And Paddy Upton’s experience will certainly come in handy.
Rajasthan Royals have also brought some clever purchases by bagging some T20 veterans. People like Rajat Bhatia and Stuart Binny can be more than handy in the shortest format. However, what was truly a master stroke from the Rajasthan think-tank has been the addition of the South African pair of Juan Theron and Chris Morris. The duo, being well established players in the format, can produce key performances and can be worthy inclusions.
One of the key facet of Shane Warne’s success story in the debut season was how greatly Rajasthan Royals exploited their home advantage. They did not lose a single match at Jaipur that season and Warne called it their “fortress”. This time, though, just like last year, Rajasthan are left homeless. Due to some disparity between BCCI and the Rajasthan Cricket Association, the Royals are stripped of any home advantage. They will play their allotted “home” games in Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad and Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai. To add to their woes, Australian paceman Kane Richardson has left the squad citing personal reasons.
Rajasthan Royals Squad
Shane Watson, Abhishek Nayar, Ajinkya Rahane, Ankit Nagendra Sharma, Ben Cutting, Deepak Hooda, Dhawal Kulkarni, Dishant Yagnik, James Faulkner, Kane Richardson, Karun Nair, Pravin Tambe, Rahul Tewatia, Rajat Bhatia, Sanju Samson, Steven Smith, Stuart Binny, Tim Southee, Vikramjeet Malik, Chris Morris, Juan Theron, Barinder Singh Saran, Dinesh Salunkhe, Sagar Trivedi, Pardeep Sahu