Rajasthan Royals (RR) were the IPL champions in the inaugural edition of 2008 and are making their comeback into the IPL fold after serving their two-year suspension.
Rajasthan Royals have always punched above their weight in the IPL and have made it to the playoffs in IPL 2013 and 2015. They were famous for their frugality in the IPL auctions, usually buying utility and unknown players and making stars out of them.
However, they shredded that image of theirs and spent big bucks in the IPL 2018 auction.
Rajasthan Royals had retained just one player before the IPL 2018 auction, Steve Smith, who had been suspended from the IPL 2018 season due to his 12-month ban handed by CA due to the ball-tampering saga. RR recruited South African wicketkeeper Heinrich Klaasen in lieu of Smith.
In the auction, RR used the RTM card to buy back Ajinkya Rahane and Dhawal Kulkarni. They spent INR 12.5 crores to buy the hottest player in the pool; England’s Ben Stokes and then spent INR 11.5 crores to buy Jaydev Unadkat. In a surprisingly buy, they spent INR 6.2 crore for K Gowtham and used the RTM card to buy back Sanju Samson for INR 8 crore.
Rajasthan Royals have also brought back their IPL 2008 winning captain Shane Warne as the mentor for their 2018 season.
Let’s take a look at the strengths of Rajasthan Royals
The strength of the RR team lies in punching above their weight in the tournament. This time they will have the maverick genius of Ben Stokes to do the punching. The MVP of IPL 2017, who took RPS to the finals single-handedly, will be one of the biggest threats to other teams whenever RR will play in the tournament.
Next, RR seems to have the most exciting T20 batting lineup in the tournament with the likes of D’Arcy Short, Rahul Tripathi, Heinrich Klaasen, Sanju Samson and Jos Buttler. They also have some of the best Indian all-rounders in S Gopal and K Gowtham and young Indian talents in Prashant Chopra, Aryaman Vikram Birla, and Mahipal Lomror.
RR also has the best death overs bowling experts in Jofra Archer, Ben Laughlin, Dhawal Kulkarni and Jaydev Unadkat.
However, the X-factor for RR is the presence of the cricketing genius of Shane Warne in the dugout. He masterminded RR’s title win in the IPL 2008 and will look to script a similar story in IPL 2018.
Click next to view the weaknesses that RR have in their current squad
RR has put their fate in unknown spinning talents like S Gopal and K Gowtham, both from Karnataka. Both are spinning all-rounders and along with them, 19-year-old Afghan chinaman bowler Zahir Khan Pakteen will shoulder the spinning duties for the team.
Not having a big name genuine spinner may come back to hurt Rajasthan in the long run.
Rajasthan Royals have an inexperienced Indian contingent, who have nil to very less international exposure. Rahul Tripathi, Krishnappa Gowtham, Shreyas Gopal, and Mahipal Lomror are all very good talents, but playing against the top international stars will be a big test of their talents and skills.
Steve Smith’s absence will also be a big factor, both as a leader and as an ace batsman in IPL 2018. Smith has an IPL record of scoring more than 22 runs at a strike-rate of 150 in the power play overs, while also being a perfect finisher as he hits a boundary in every 4.4 deliveries in the death overs.
BEST BUY OF THE AUCTION
Though he was the most expensive buy of the IPL 2018 auction for INR 12.5 crores, Ben Stokes was the much sought after player and had a bidding war going for him in which all the franchises put their bids in. Rajasthan Royals went all out and bought the Englishman, who has the charisma and talent to win games single-handedly, either with the ball or the bat.
Rajasthan Royals have some very good Indian talents and also bought some serious T20 talent from foreign in an effort to go for the title this year. Rajasthan Royals have a formidable side with an emphasis on T20 specialists and this shows that they are looking to win the title and they have all the ingredients to make it happen, despite the loss of Steve Smith.
RAJASTHAN ROYALS SQUAD 2018:
Ajinkya Rahane (C), Ben Stokes, Jaydev Unadkat, Sanju Samson, Jofra Archer, Krishnappa Gowtham, Jos Buttler, Heinrich Klaasen, Darcy Short, Rahul Tripathi, Dhawal Kulkarni, Zahir Khan Pakteen, Ben Laughlin, Stuart Binny, Dushmantha Chameera, Anureet Singh, Aryaman Vikram Birla, Midhun S, Shreyas Gopal, Prashant Chopra, Jatin Saxena, Ankit Sharma, Mahipal Lomror