The Indian Premier League has had a turbulent journey from highs to lows. And yet, we stand here awaiting another season of the IPL.
Rajasthan Royals is a team which has had a similar journey. From the highs of winning the inaugural season to being sordid when a few of its players were caught for match fixing, the team has been through it all.
In 2008, they had the legendary Shane Keith Warne who inspired them to a victory when they were the most under rated team in the league. He brought out players like Yusuf Pathan and Ravindra Jadeja who were then still not the finished product that they are perhaps at the moment.The latter now is an integral part of the national team. Last season, they had the everlasting presence of Rahul Dravid who along with Ajinkhya Rahane steered the team forward.
Rajasthan Royals have been one of the more consistent teams over the years. True to their previous squads, this season too they do not have the batting firepower like the RCB nor do they have the bowling power of the Sunrisers. It’s just the mix and match that help them achieve so much. So let us have a look at their team and their chances this time around.
Ajinkya Rahane, Brad Hodge, Unmukt Chand
Dhawal Kulkarni, Kane Richardson, Iqbal Abdulla, Tim Southee, Vikramjeet Malik, Rahul Tewatia
Shane Watson, Stuart Binny, James Faulkner, Pravin Tambe, Kevon Cooper, Steve Smith, Abhishek Nayar, Rajat Bhatia, Karun Nair, Deepak Hooda, Ankit Sharma.
Sanju Samson, Dishant Yagnik
The Royals are filled with people who on their day can win matches single handedly. Let’s look at 3 players who fit into that role.
1. Shane Watson
One of the most dangerous players in the IPL, Shane Watson can change the game on its head in the blink of an eye. His fearsome hitting of the cricket ball is unmatched. He can open and bat in the middle order which makes him a very versatile player. It’s the versatility he possesses that makes him such a useful player for any team. Besides, he is one of the best death bowlers around as he varies his line and length to perfection. Also, his change of pace is very effective.
2. James Faulkner
Just a few months ago, this Baggy Green was a villain of sorts as he snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against India when he destroyed the bowling attack en route to a century. If he was to do anything like that, well folks you’ll be in for a treat. His explosive batting is just a part of a game as he is one of the best T20 bowlers around the world and he is also an excellent outfielder. The Royals did an excellent job by retaining him and it would be interesting to see as to how he fares this time around.
3. Steve Smith
Many of you must be wondering why I didn’t include a Stuart Binny or an Ajinkya Rahane or a Brad Hodge. The simple reason is that Smith is much more versatile than the trio mentioned and also, he is a class act when it comes to fielding.
Steve Smith has improved by leaps and bounds since the last IPL where he played for the now defunct Pune Warriors. His batting has improved by a big margin and he is bowling much more consistently now. His leg spin would be handy in sub continental conditions. Also, he would easily save at least 5-10 runs every match with his fielding and that makes a big difference in the game.
THE DARK HORSE:
Well, technically, he isn’t the dark horse but I went ahead and gave him this title anyway. The reason is very simple. Every season not much is expected from him, yet he churns out one astonishing performance after another at the top. The Rajasthan Royals are actually heavily dependent on him and yet, no one somehow acknowledges that! This time too, things will not be any different. For their middle order to fire, it’s imperative that Rahane brings his A game to the park!
What to expect this season:
The Royals’ team is often made the underdog and they like it as they are not mounted with pressure like some of the other teams are. They are not expected to win and this removes a huge burden off their shoulders.
Their batting is more often than not very stable. This ensures that they have a smooth sail ahead. They have a lot of all rounders who do their work for the team with both bat and ball.
They do not have a problem in the wicket keeping department as Sanju Samson and Dishant Yagnik are both safe with the gloves and not push overs with the bat either. Their bowling is not mediocre by any standards. They are very consistent at the death and they control the middle overs which is the key for any team’s standards.
The main problem for them this time around is that they are not playing in the Sawai Mansingh Stadium due to an altercation between the RCA and the IPL authorities.
Their home ground has been changed to Ahmedabad. This could be a crucial factor in deciding their fortunes as they have traditionally been extremely strong at home.
Yes, Binny, Samson, Smith and Faulkner can all use the big handle to good effect but will the batting line up be effective enough against a good attack like Steyn and co at Sunrisers? I doubt that.
How far will they go would be a tricky question but they would surely be one of the teams to look out for this time around too and with that being said I bid adieu.