History:

2008: Winners [1]

2009: Group Stages [6]

 2010: Group Stages [7]

2011: Group Stages [6]

2012: Group Stages [7]

2013: Group Stages [3]

2014: Group Stages [5]

Entering the tournament, this Jaipur-based franchise had spent the least amount of money and as a result, were considered the least likely to qualify for the knockout stages, much less eventual winners!  In fact, the team had been expected to finish bottom of the table and had even been labeled ‘pushovers’ among other things in the follow-up to the tournament. The estimations of pundits and fans alike had seemed proven right after a comprehensive 9-wicket loss to the Delhi Daredevils in their opening match. They since enjoyed a fairytale they seemed to have themselves most eloquently written: finishing top of the table, routing Delhi in the semis before winning the title in splendid fashion chasing down Chennai’s total of 163 with 3 wickets to spare off the last ball of the match. This near-impossible feat was only possible due to the trio of Captain and Coach Shane Warne, Man of the Series ‘Watto’ Shane Watson, Purple Cap winner Sohail Tanvir being ably supported by the promising young Indian players Swapnil Asnodkar, Ravindra Jadeja & Yusuf Pathan.

Rajasthan Royals failed to impress in the four subsequent seasons, finishing in 6th & 7th positions twice each. They either failed to capitalise on impressive starts or bloomed too late in the tournament to make an impact on the proceedings of the table. A force to reckon with at their home stadium, they had not been able to replicate the same form on the road. The faults critics found with their squad before the first season of the IPL caught up on them as they dropped from ‘title contenders’ to merely ‘tricky opponents to be wary of’. They missed the services of important players Tanvir & Watson for the second season. The retiring of Shane Warne greatly affected the team and the introduction of Indian legend Rahul Dravid in the side failed to arrest their slump in form.

The team spectacularly returned to form in IPL 2013 finishing third in the table ahead of Sunrisers Hyderabad whom they would beat in the eliminator before losing to eventual-winners Mumbai Indians in the second qualifier. Led by Rahul Dravid, they relied on the experience and talent of their mainstay Shane Watson who would even go on to win the Man of the Series award for a second time. They played some brilliant cricket throughout the tournament and it would not be wrong of them to consider themselves unlucky to have failed to reach the final. The team continued playing impressively in the latest season of the IPL. They seemed destined for a playoff spot but Mumbai Indians emphatically stopped them in their last league game in most spectacular fashion. Having scored an imposing 189, they would have qualified even upon losing the match as long as Mumbai failed to acquire the humongous target of 190 within 14.3 overs. Corey Anderson’s 95 off 44 balls did just that as they scored 195 off 14.4 overs, which barely managed to propel them over their opponents in the league table due to a m-a-a-arginally higher run rate. One could describe their bowling & fielding as horrible and pathetic, and it would still be understating how bad their performance was. At the end of the day, they had no one else to blame but themselves and the Net Run Rate system. However, they would now try to redeem themselves in front of their fans and aim to punch above their weight when nobody expects them to as usual, and book a place in the playoffs!

 Team:

Rajasthan Royals have made a name for themselves as a team who relies greatly on young exciting talent bought at budget prices as opposed to more flashy international stars. Instead of going for established Indian & foreign stars like most franchises, they have a history of unearthing the best among unknown and uncapped Indian as well as International players across all ages. One does not have to look far to notice the likes of Asnodkar, Jadeja &Yusuf in the first three seasons and Kevon Cooper, Sanju Samson & Pravin Tambe in the previous one, all who have developed into match-winners. Other than trading offie Abdullah to RCB, Rajasthan released only 5 players for the auction albeit including the important game-changing duo of Cooper & veteran Hodge. They used the 13 Crores at their disposal prudently as always, investing the same in opener Unmukt Chand and bowling all-rounders Chris Morris & Rusty Theron.

Despite the disappointment in their last match against Mumbai, they had a decent season last time around and deserved to qualify for the playoffs. While most have not given the team much of a chance, seeing as how much the other teams have spent and bulked up their squads, one must remember that they have always punched above their weight when it matters the most and it would be foolish to rule them out just yet. A decent batting composed of the in-form Australians Smith and Watson where young Indians like Rahane and Samson will skillfully support them at the top of the batting order. Southee & Kulkarni lend some serious pace to the bowling attack where veteran Pravin Tambe will use his guile to restrict the oppositions to lower totals like how he has done many times before. They also have some great finishers in Faulkner & Binny who can not only take the game away from any team with some lusty blows at the end but also some great bowling.

Squad for IPL 8:

Shane Watson, Stuart Binny, James Faulkner, Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson, Steve Smith, Rajat Bhatia, Tim Southee, Dhawal Kulkarni, Abhishek Nayar, Kane Richardson*, Ben Cutting, Deepak Hooda, Dishant Yagnik, Vikramjeet Malik, Ankit Sharma, Rahul Tewatia, Pravin Tambe, Chris Morris, Dinesh Salunkhe, Rusty Theron, Pradeep Sahu, Barinder Saran, Sagar Trivedi.

*Kane Richardson backed out of the tournament at the last moment citing personal reasons.

IN: Chris Morris (1.4 Cr), Unmukt Chand (65 L), Dinesh Salunkhe (10 L), Rusty Theron (30 L), Barinder Saran (10 L), Sagar Trivedi (10 L), Pradeep Sahu (10 L).

OUT: Iqbal Abdulla (RCB), Brad Hodge (Unsold), Kevon Cooper (Unsold), Ankit Sharma (Unsold), Amit Sharma (Unsold), Ankush Bains (CSK).

Best Buy: Chris Morris

Impact Players:

Ajinkya Rahane – Despite arriving relatively recently on the scene, this Indian batsman has already made a name for himself and has been compared to the likes of Indian legends VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid. Initially not considered to be one for the T20 format, he proved fans and critics wrong when he scored consistently and quickly to become Rajasthan’s highest scorer in the previous season. On the back of a decent run in the World Cup, he would love to continue getting the best out of his current form and maybe even challenge for the Orange Cap.

Shane Watson – “Watto” Shane Watson has been with Rajasthan since day one of the IPL. He has won “Man of the Series” twice during this time. The Australian was expected to be dropped from the World Cup Winning XI after an initial slump in form but he repaid the selectors’ faith in him with some solid performances towards the back-end of the tournament. Almost equally great with bat and ball, the Rajasthan team will look forward to him leading his side all the way this time.

James Faulkner – Once a bowling all-rounder decent enough to be labelled a pinch-hitter, the Australian is now a player capable of virtually single-handedly finishing the match off with both bat and ball when required. An important cog in the side that won the CWC15 tournament, he consistently put in match-winning performances and will hope to do the same for his IPL team. His ability to take crucial wickets, slow down the opposition and go absolutely berserk with the bat makes him a player any team would love to have in their side and hate to play against.

Steve Smith – Steve Smith is currently in the form of his life. Enjoying great series after great series after great series, one cannot find much fault in his game. Like his fellow Australian Faulkner, he has improved his batting skills almost ten-fold. Now risen to the One-Down position in the batting order, he has made it his own by delivering performances on a regular basis. One must not forget his ability to bowl the ‘slower ones’ and his excellence in the field due to which he is presently perhaps one of the most lethal T20 players in the world.

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