Rajasthan Royals: Will Pink End Royals’ Draught?

Eleven years after winning the inaugural IPL, Rajasthan Royals again enter the tournament as the underdogs but this time in a pink jersey. Can Ajinkya Rahane, a fine captain himself, draw inspiration from Shane Warne’s historic run in 2008 to win the tournament when they are least likely to?

Rajasthan Royals: Will Pink End Royals’ 11 Year Draught? Rajasthan Royals: Will Pink End Royals’ 11 Year Draught? Source : Rajasthan Royals Facebook

Rajasthan Royals won the inaugural IPL under the inspiring leadership of Shane Warne who unearthed players like Ravindra Jadeja and Yusuf Pathan, changed the fortunes of Shane Watson and Sohail Tanvir, got the best out of players like Swapnil Asnodkar and Siddharth Trivedi and with the addition of amazing tournament experienced players like he himself, Graeme Smith and Munaf Patel had, he assembled a winning team from the most unexpected of places.

Although Rajasthan Royals finished fourth last season, their captain Ajinkya Rahane himself had an underwhelming tournament with the bat. He has been short of runs lately and Rajasthan's fortune will rely much on how he goes with the bat. Steve Smith led RPSG from the front when he scored 472 runs at an average touching 40 when they reached the final in 2017. But that was two years ago and much has changed since then. Smith hasn't played any top top-level cricket since the Sandpaper saga. Smith himself would love to repay the faith Royals have shown in him more so because he is also competing for a spot in Australia's World Cup XI.

English all-rounder Ben Stokes, who was the most valuable player in 2017 for RPSG when they reached the finals, he was out of form with both bat and ball for Rajasthan Royals. He is one of the most exciting players to watch in the world when in full flow, be it with bat, ball or on the field. If he finds form, Rajasthan Royals would be hard to stop.

RR Probable XI: Ajinkya Rahane (c), Jos Buttler, Steve Smith, Sanju Samson (wk), Ben Stokes, Rahul Tripathi, Krishnappa Gowtham, Shreyas Gopal, Jofra Archer, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jaydev Unadkat

Watch Out for: Rajasthan Royals invested on Ashton Turner before he became a superstar overnight when he blasted India in Australia's highest successful chase in ODI history. They got Turner for just 50 lacs and everyone will be expecting him to do something similar once he gets an opportunity. Liam Livingstone is an attacking right-hand batsman from England. He played for Karachi Kings in the PSL and hit a couple of fifties.

Strengths: Rajasthan Royals bat deep, with Archer coming in at 9 who is a bowling all-rounder. They also have six genuine bowling options. Rahane and Smith provide solidity in a top 7 boasting of aggression.

Weaknesses: Ish Sodhi is the most experienced spinner in Rajasthan Royals team. Gowtham and Gopal are bowling all-rounders. On a good batting pitch, they may prove ineffective against a set pair. There is a question mark over the availability of players like Buttler, Stokes, Archer, Smith and Turner who will leave at some point before the end of the tournament. Rajastan Royals do not have quality backups to fill their shoes. There is not much depth beyond their playing XI.

X-Factor: Jos Buttler can destroy any type of bowling on his day. 2018 was a golden year for him across all formats. His fortunes have changed ever since he started opening in the IPL. Last year, he averaged 54.8 striking at 155, scoring 5 fifties in a total of 548 across 13 innings. Royals are expecting something similar from their key player this year as well.

Uncapped Gem: Shreyas Gopal averaged 9.30 per wicket and 5.85 runs per over and took 13 wickets in the 8 matches he played in the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy for Karnataka which won the tournament. He is a handy batsman and his action is similar to that of Anil Kumble.

RR Full Squad: Ajinkya Rahane, Krishnappa Gowtham, Sanju Samson, Shreyas Gopal, Aryaman Birla, S. Midhun, Prashant Chopra, Stuart Binny, Rahul Tripathi, Ben Stokes, Steve Smith, Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer, Ish Sodhi, Dhawal Kulkarni, Mahipal Lomror. Manan Vohra, Shashank Singh, Liam Livingstone, Riyan Parag, Ashton Turner, Shubham Ranjane, Jaydev Unadkat, Varun Aaron, Oshane Thomas, Sudhesan Midhun

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