Rajasthan Royals have been the perennial underdogs in the Indian Premier League (IPL) devoid of many superstars, but they have been successful in making an impression, even winning the title once. Rajasthan have the ability to go all the way this time as well, and having seen the way they play, they would go all out to achieve the same again. Rajasthan will be led by Australian all-rounder Shane Watson in the 2015 edition. Paddy Upton is their head coach while Rahul Dravid is their mentor. Manoj Badale, Shilpa Shetty and Raj Kundra are the owners of RR while Raghu Iyer is the CEO.
Rajasthan had a wonderful IPL debut when they won the inaugural edition against all odds. In the final, they beat Chennai Super Kings in a cliff hanger, winning by three wickets off the last ball. Yusuf Pathan starred with 56 and three wickets. They made the play-offs in 2013, beating Sunrisers Hyderabad in the eliminator by 4 wickets, but losing to Mumbai Indians in the qualifier by the same margin. In the five other editions, they were eliminated in the group stage. Legends like Shane Warne and Rahul Dravid have previously captained the Royals.
Key players to watch out for
Shane Watson: It was the IPL in 2008 that revived the Australian all- rounder’s sinking career. Now, seven years later, Watson has been handed over the responsibility of leading the franchise. He has been a constant feature in Rajasthan over the years, and is in form, particularly with the bat. Off the field, the franchise has been facing many troubles, with betting related controversies and reports of their owners giving up their stake.
Ajinkya Rahane: Over the years, Rahane has been one of the stars for Rajasthan. Opening the innings, he has played some fantastic innings, maintaining a strike rate that defies his batting style. Rahane can hit over the top with ease, which makes him a dangerous customer at the top of the order. His consistency has also been impressive. In addition, he is a fantastic fielder as well.
James Faulkner: The Australian all-rounder, who was the man of the match in the World Cup 2015 final, was picked up Rajasthan before he had made a serious impression for his national side. Buoyed by his World Cup success, he will be highly confident. Faulkner can be quick, but his USP is his ability to mix things up. With the bat, he can hit the ball a long way. An invaluable asset to Rajasthan.
Steve Smith: The Rajasthan side is full of World Cup winning Aussies, Smith is another of them. He has all the strokes in the book and although he hasn’t set the IPL on fire as yet, he will be highly confident this time as he has scored runs by the buckets in international cricket. For once, Indians would be bored to see him bat.
Tim Southee: The Kiwi fast bowler will be the leader of Rajasthan’s pace attack. He is quick without doubt, but his consistency is a question mark, as was evident in the World Cup. With not many big names in the bowling department, Southee will be a key man.
--By A Cricket Analyst