IPL 2019: Ajinkya Rahane leads formidable Rajasthan Royals (RR) squad
The Rajasthan outfit has failed to make any final since and faced the ignominy of being banned for two seasons on account of its role in the 2013 match-fixing scandal that also saw the suspension Chennai Super Kings.Updated: Feb 15, 2019 09:51 IST
The fairytale triumph of Rajasthan Royals in the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League in 2008 went a long way in ensuring the newly-minted competition would become a permanent fixture in every cricket lover’s calendar. The team led by the legend Shane Warne and somewhat unknown players like Yusuf Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja and Sohail Tanvir as well as the Australian all-rounder Shane Watson went on to defy the odds and became the inaugural champions more than a decade ago.
Their subsequent turns at the tournament haven’t been as successful. The Rajasthan outfit has failed to make any final since and faced the ignominy of being banned for two seasons on account of its role in the 2013 match-fixing scandal that also saw the suspension Chennai Super Kings.
The Royals returned to the competition in the 2018 edition and went on to finish fourth in the league standings before being bundled out by Kolkata Knight Riders in the playoffs. Before the start of last year’s tournament, the Royals were dealt a hammer blow as captain Steve Smith pulled out due to the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa early last year. In his absence, Ajinkya Rahane led the side and will remain the skipper this year as well.
Smith’s return will be a big boost for the Royals, who have a lot of quality in their ranks. England wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler, all-rounder Ben Stokes, West Indies pacer Oshane Thomas and Rs 8.4 crore buy Jaydev Unadkat are proven performers.
They will be eager to repeat the heroics of 2008 when the action of the latest edition begins on 23 March.
Ajinkya Rahane, Krishnappa Gowtham, Sanju Samson, Shreyas Gopal, Aryaman Birla, Sudhesan Midhun, Prashant Chopra, Stuart Binny, Rahul Tripathi, Dhawal Kulkarni, Mahipal Lomror, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Steve Smith, Jofra Archer, Ish Sodhi, Jaydev Unadkat, Varun Aaron, Oshane Thomas, Shashank Singh, Liam Livingstone, Shubham Ranjane, Manan Vohra, Ashton Turner, Riyan Parag
Head of cricket - Zubin Bharucha
Head coach - Paddy Upton
Batting coach - Amol Muzumdar
Spin bowling coach - Sairaj Bahutule
Fast bowling coach - Steffan Jones
Fielding coach - Dishant Yagnik
Physiotherapist - John Gloster
Five Indian players to watch out for
A veteran of 126 IPL games, Rahane has a hundred and 26 fifties against his name. He captained the side last term in the absence of Steve Smith and took them to the playoffs. The Mumbai batsman will look to provide a good base at the top of the order. He will be eager to use the tournament to secure a place in India’s limited overs squads.
Unadkat was the most expensive Indian player at the 2018 auction when he was bought for Rs 11.5 crore. He was released but was bought back by the Royals and this time too he was the highest-priced Indian at Rs 8.4 crore (tied with Varun Chakravarthy of Kings XI Punjab). Having failed to live up to his price tag the last time around, the pacer, who captained Saurashtra to the final of the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy, will look to do better this year.
Samson was the highest run-getter among the Indian batsmen for the Royals last term. He notched an impressive 441 runs at an average of 31.50 with a highest of 92 not out. The Kerala wicket-keeper batsman will look for a repeat of his heroics from the last campaign.
Tripathi was picked for a mere Rs 10 lakh in 2017 by Rising Pune Supergiant and went on to play a starring role in their IPL campaign. After the franchise got dissolved, Tripathi turned out for the Royals and was their fourth highest run-scorer last term. He will look to continue in the same vein come March.
Having made his IPL bow in the inaugural edition of 2008, Kulkarni is one of the most experienced players on the circuit. While he might not have played much international cricket (12 ODIs and two T20Is) so far, Kulkarni has featured regularly in the IPL. He will look to improve upon his haul of 79 wickets from 80 IPL matches at 25.87.
Five Overseas players to watch out for
After taking the IPL by storm with Rising Pune Supergiant in his inaugural campaign in 2017, Stokes was a little subdued compared to his very high standards last term. One of the best all-rounders in the modern game, the English star will be eager to resume normal service this year.
Buttler enjoyed a spectacular 2018 and has gone on to establish himself in all three formats in the England international side. He was the highest run-getter for the Royals last year with his tally of 548 runs from 13 matches that came at an astounding average of 54.8. The wicket-keeper batsman will be eager for more of the same this year.
The Sussex all-rounder, who played for West Indies at the U-19 level, is being eyed by the England set up as they are keen to cap the bowler and make him their own. Archer finished with 15 wickets last year and was the highest wicket-taker for the Royals. He will be expected to deliver the goods again.
Thomas has express pace and has the ability to clock around 150 kmph regularly. The 21-year-old generated great pace from the placid Indian pitches during the West Indies’ tour of India last year and troubled most batsmen. If he lives up to his billing, Thomas could be one of the stars of the 2019 IPL campaign.
After missing the 2018 season in dramatic circumstances, Smith will be raring to go when the 2019 edition begins on March 23. The former Australia captain had to miss out on a year of action owing to the ban due to his involvement in the ball-tampering saga in South Africa. Now that he is free to play again, Royals will look to benefit from his remarkable consistency.
2008 – Champions
2009 – Sixth
2010 – Seventh
2011 – Sixth
2012 – Seventh
2013 – Playoffs
2014 – Fifth
2015 – Playoffs
2016 – Banned
2017 – Banned
2018 – Playoffs
First Published: Feb 14, 2019 19:17 IST