Rajasthan Royals 2014: Squad, Auction Deals, Captain, Probable Team
The much-anticipated seventh season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) finally gets underway in both the United Arab Emirates and India, starting on 16 April, and we now take an in-depth look at the Rajasthan Royals and just how the franchise may fare this year.
And so here is everything you need to know about the 2008 IPL winners…
Batsmen: Brad Hodge, Unmukt Chand, Karun Nair, Ajinkya Rahane, Steven Smith
All-rounders: Rajat Bhatia, Abhishek Nayar, Ben Cutting, Kevon Cooper, Shane Watson, Stuart Binny, James Faulkner, Dishant Yagnik, Ankush Bains, Sanju Samson, Iqbal Abdulla, Deepak Hooda
Bowlers: Rahul Tewatia, Ankit Sharma, Pravin Tambe, Tim Southee, Dhaval Kulkarni, Kane Richardson, Vikramjeet Malik, Amit Mishra
Batsmen: Brad Hodge (INR 2.4 crore), Karun Nair (INR 75 lakh), Unmukt Chand (INR 65 lakh), Ajinkya Rahane (retained), Steven Smith (INR 4 crore).
All-rounders: Rajat Bhatia (INR 1.7 crore), Abhishek Nayar (INR 1 crore), Ben Cutting (INR 80 lakh), Kevon Cooper (INR 30 lakh), Rahul Tewatia (INR 10 lakh), Shane Watson (retained), Stuart Binny (retained), James Faulkner (retained).
Wicketkeeper-batsmen: Dishank Yagnik (INR 30 lakh), Ankush Bains (INR 10 lakh), Sanju Samson (retained).
Spinners: Iqbal Abdulla (INR 65 lakh), Deepak Hooda (INR 40 lakh), Ankit Sharma (INR 10 lakh), Pravin Tambe (INR 10 lakh).
Fast bowlers: Tim Southee (INR 1.2 crore), Dhaval Kulkarni (INR 1.1 crore), Kane Richardson (INR 1 crore), Vikramjeet Malik (INR 20 lakh), Amit Mishra (INR 10 lakh).
Rating Their Business
The Royals decided to splash out a large amount (NR 4 crore) in the auction on big-hitting Australia Steven Smith, while he is also joined in the squad by compatriot Brad Hodge after the franchise opted to retain the veteran batsman’s services.
Meanwhile in the bowling department, Rajasthan did well to bring in both New Zealand seamer Tim Southee and wily India leg-spinner, and one of the stars of the recent International Cricket Council World Twenty20 (T20), Amit Mishra.
However, perhaps their best bit of business was actually being able to pick up leg-break bowler Pravin Tambe for just 10 lakh, although at the same time, many of their support players are relatively untried when it comes to performing in the high-octane environment of the IPL.
Overall batting strength: B
Overall bowling strength: B
Experienced Australia all-rounder Shane Watson has replaced Rahul Dravid as skipper of the Royals following the India batting legend’s decision to retire from all forms of cricket last year.
Despite having been with the Jaipur-based franchise since its inception in 2008, the 32-year-old has never actually captained the team before, learning instead under the likes of first compatriot Shane Warne, and then latterly Dravid.
However, Watson is sure to be hugely respected by both his own team-mates in general and the opposition as a whole after twice being voted the Player of the Tournament, first in his debut season when Rajasthan won the competition, and then again last year when the Aussie also made his first-ever T20 century against the Chennai Super Kings.
And with Watson having also led his country before (in the fourth Test in India in 2013), as well as being vice-captain to Michael Clarke in all three forms of the game before deciding to relinquish those duties last year, expect Watto to lead from the front in this edition of the IPL, as befits a man with 1,785 runs at a strike-rate of 145 and 48 wickets to his name in 55 contests.
Captaincy strength: B -
After signing a wealth of talent in this year's auction, finding a settled 11 will be tough for management but he is what we think the strongest team will look like:
Sanju Samson, Ajinkya Rahane, Shane Watson, Steven Smith, Brad Hodge, Unmukt Chand, Stuart Binny, James Faulkner, Rajat Bhatia, Dhaval Kulkarni and Pravin Tambe.
Prediction for the Tournament
No franchise bought more players than the Royals during auction time and yet at the same time, Rajasthan still have the cheapest squad of all their rivals in the tournament at a cost of just INR 54.45 crore.
And while the Royals do possess impressive strength in depth across every department of the team, you do just wonder whether they have the players needed to go all the way this year.
In fact, one suspects that it may be their bowling which prevents Watson and Co. from repeating their display in last season’s IPL, when they came within a whisker of reaching the final.
Prediction: Fifth-place league finish