#IPL: Rajasthan Royals don’t inspire confidence, but they will compete

PREVIEW: On cricketbadger.com we preview each of the IPL franchise – here’s our appraisal on the chances of the Shane Watson led Rajasthan Royals…

IPLadvertRajasthan were the league’s first winners under the captaincy of Shane Warne in 2008, but have struggled to live up to the expectation that their early success generated.

Over the next four seasons they finished 6th, 7th, 6th and 7th again over the next four seasons. In 2014 they finished 5th.

They have four players who appeared in the World Cup final this year. One of those – Steven Smith – is, give or take an AB de Villiers, the best batsman in the world at the moment.

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Tim Southee

Like Kings XI, the Royals have three World Cup winners. Shane Watson is their captain, Steve Smith has blossomed into a world star in the last two years and James Faulkner was the man of the match in the final.

Sticking with World Cup stars, Tim Southee was a key factor in New Zealand’s charge to the final and he could well feature for Rajasthan more this time around.

The Rajasthan management are canny beasts. Despite expanding their squad to 25, just two short of the permitted maximum squad size of 27, they had the most unused funds of any of the franchises at the 2015 IPL Player Auction. They were equally frugal a year earlier.

GENERAL TITTLE TATTLE

Previous record: Champions 2008, semi-finalists in 2013, failed to make it out of the group stage every other year.

THE KEY MAN – James Faulkner

Faulkner’s role in Australia’s World Cup campaign was pivotal, but understated. And his player of the final performance was confirmation of just how valuable a player he is in the shorter formats. Can turn a game with bat or ball and in very quick time.

ONE TO WATCH FOR - Sanju Samson

Rajasthan Royals pick players on merit. Sanju Samson is still aged only 20 and has already enjoyed two impressive IPL campaigns. If he is on an upward career curve and steps up another gear for IPL8 he could begin winning matches with his performances.

BEST OF THE REST

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Steven Smith

Steven Smith is the next Australian captain and the current nations favourite. He has matured in all formats and cannot stop scoring runs at vital times. He cannot seem to do anything wrong - expect a big IPL from him.

Pravin Tambe is a dream story. A veteran, unknown leg-spin bowler who played for Mumbai and worked during the day. Thrown into the IPL he hasn’t looked back. He takes wickets, bowls with a ridiculously low economy rate and loves every second.

Shane Watson perhaps does not have long left on the biggest stages of the world, but he’d more than capable of making an impact at IPL8. He used the IPL in 2008 to relaunch his career. Perhaps this could be another fresh dawn.

THE RAJASTHAN ROYALS SQUAD

Shane Watson (capt), Abhishek Nayar, Ajinkya Rahane, Ankit Nagendra Sharma, Ben Cutting, Deepak Hooda, Dhawal Kulkarni, Dishant Yagnik, James Faulkner, Kane Richardson, Karun Nair, Pravin Tambe, Rahul Tewatia, Rajat Bhatia, Sanju Samson, Steven Smith, Stuart Binny, Tim Southee, Vikramjeet Malik, Chris Morris, Juan Theron, Barinder Singh Saran, Dinesh Salunkhe, Sagar Trivedi, Pardeep Sahu.

BADGER PREDICTS

They will once again start as underdogs, but they won’t be pushovers. We can’t see them progressing past the group stages, but they’ll make life difficult for the rest.

James Buttler

James Buttler

James has been working as a cricket journalist and broadcaster since 2006.
As the editor of Cricket Badger he is intent on building the website to give quality coverage of the domestic game around the world.
James was the full-time Media Manager at Yorkshire County Cricket Club between 2007 and 2010.
James is a published author and a writer/video contributor to many cricket publications.
He's unsurprisingly a complete cricket badger!
James Buttler

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