IPL 2012

Good, but not good enough

Rajasthan Royals showed you didn't need big stars to compete, but once again they fell just short

Tariq Engineer

May 21, 2012

Comments: 15 | Text size: A | A

Ajinkya Rahane smashes one over mid-off, Rajasthan Royals v Deccan Chargers, IPL 2012, Jaipur, April 17, 2012
Ajinkya Rahane showed why he is one of India's better batting prospects © AFP
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Series/Tournaments: Indian Premier League

Where they finished


In seventh place. But they had a chance to make the playoffs with two games to go, only to lose to Deccan Chargers and Mumbai Indians to close out their season.

Key player


Ajinkya Rahane showed why he is one of India's better batting prospects by excelling at the top of the order. Having held the orange cap for a significant part of the season, Rahane ended the group stage third on the list of run scorers with 560 at an average of 40 and a strike rate of 129.33, though his form did tail away towards the end of the tournament.

Bargain buy


Picked up for $180,000 in the February auction, the 41-year-old Brad Hogg showed there was still plenty of bite left in his spinning fingers, taking 10 wickets from nine games while giving away just 7.02 runs per over. His introduction to the side gave the Royals' attack a different dimension that opposition batsmen found hard to combat, most memorably demonstrated by his dismissal of Chris Gayle in Bangalore and the celebratory run that followed.

Flop buy


A crucial component of the Royal's middle order, Ashok Menaria failed to live up to his billing this season, struggling with the bat and only bowling 3.2 overs. Though he has the ability to hit the big shots and score quickly, Menaria never found his rhythm, averaging just 20 with a disappointing strike-rate of 108.91.

Highlight


The win over Royal Challengers Bangalore in Bangalore. The game began with Rahane smashing the year's first hundred, an unbeaten 103 from just 60 balls that included 12 fours and five sixes. In support, Owais Shah blasted the fastest 50 of the tournament, from 19 balls, to set up a total of 195. After both Royal Challengers openers had fallen early to Pankaj Singh, Siddharth Trivedi knocked over the middle order to finish with 4 for 25, to give Royals a comprehensive 59-run victory.

Lowlight


Despite losing four games on the trot at one stage, Royals still controlled their destiny with two games to go. Beat Deccan Chargers and it would all have come down to a winner-take-all game against Mumbai Indians in Jaipur. But with their season in line against one of the poorest teams this year - Chargers had been victorious in only two matches out of 14 till that point - they were knocked out of the playoff race by a stifling spell of legspin bowling from Amit Mishra, who restricted them to their lowest total of the season. Chargers then cantered home with eight balls to spare.

Verdict


It was another year of almost-but-not-quite for Royals. The batting, led by Rahane, carried them in the early part of the season but four consecutive losses in the middle of the tournament left them with too much to do to make the playoffs. Still, with smart pickups like Owais Shah and Brad Hogg, the franchise continues to prove that you don't have to stock your roster with big names to be competitive. And had Shane Watson been around for the entire tournament, instead of missing the first nine games, the Royals might even have made it over the line. The big question for next year though is whether Rahul Dravid comes back for another season as captain or whether there will once again have to be a change at the top.

Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Riderstorm on (May 22, 2012, 16:55 GMT)

Rajasthan Royals, a team in a truest sense. KXIP comes close to be a team instead of being a bunch of individuals put together. RR guys, display strong sense of sportsmanship and geniunely enjoy team-mates success. I wish RR along with KXIP were in the playoffs to prove that cricket is a team game. According to me, RR started making these wrong choices such as fiddling with Hodge and Shah unnecessarily. Not giving enough games for Hogg, who is potent enough even at his age. They could've trusted tait little more to give him more games.

Posted by Baundele on (May 22, 2012, 11:50 GMT)

Their team composition was wrong. Botha played too many matches with zero performance. Tait was introduced only at the later part of the competition. Kevon Cooper's injury was also a big blow.

Posted by Charith99 on (May 22, 2012, 11:33 GMT)

a lot of bangladehis complained about not playing sakib in kkr, but the most surprise was RR not playing chandimal & in the end they paid for their mistake.

Posted by satish619chandar on (May 22, 2012, 8:49 GMT)

They were decent without being threatening anytime.. What they lacked is the spark player - The X factor.. Rahane gave them some performance which they needed to be in frame for the playoff but when the law of averages(Or big games) catched up, he failed and they lost the momentum.. The tossing up between Shah and Hodge didn't work out that well.. They had good options but something desserted them.. Had Watson played the entire tournament, i think the picture could have been different..

Posted by Kapil_Choudhary on (May 22, 2012, 7:58 GMT)

This is now the 4th straight season where Rajasthan got themselves to a position where if they could win their last 2-3 games and a couple of other results went their way then they would be in the play-offs. However, in each of those 4 seasons they have lost their final key games (even though other results still went their way and they would have qualified had they won). How are they not yet the butt of multiple jokes of the so-near-but-still-so-far variety....?????

Posted by   on (May 22, 2012, 5:07 GMT)

Their biggest problem has been their Indian players except for Rahane no one else has performed. The less said about their Indian bowlers the better. Amit Singh was probably the worst as they come. Why Chahar was not given a chance still amazes all. The owners simple believe in investing 25 paise and earning 100 rupees. Although that worked in the first season, it wont happen next until 10 years atleast. If they don't buy better players it will be the same story every season: top of fair play awards and bottom of performance table.

Posted by Narbavi on (May 22, 2012, 3:38 GMT)

They should have won the game against delhi, how can a side lose despite needing oly 15 from 12balls with 9wickets in hand, and also the games against CSK, royals played a better brand of cricket than teams like MI, but they just couldnt finish it off, hope Rahul returns for one last time next season!!

Posted by caught_knott_bowled_old on (May 21, 2012, 23:25 GMT)

With players like Dravid, Rahane, Watson, Hodge, Owais in the line up, RR should be kicking themselves for coming in at #7. They are not underdogs, but underachievers. In fact, RCB and RR are two under-achieving teams in the IPL. Its just that the commentators and writers keep calling them a team with 'limited resources' - which is not true. They are a well-stocked team that clearly lost steam and didn't get the inspiration from Dravid or the runs from Rahane in the end.

Posted by Venkata_Siddhartha on (May 21, 2012, 22:43 GMT)

I hope Dravid comes back next season.

Posted by vsssarma on (May 21, 2012, 18:29 GMT)

Highly performing players got fewer matches. Best batsman Watson got 7 matches. Cooper & Tait got just 6 matches each. Hogg got 9. Inspite of this, Royals scored 126 runs and gave away 126 runs per every 100 balls. This is the third best performance. The quotient of runs scored per 100 balls to runs conceded per 100 balls is 0.9984 for RR. The quotients for other teams are: Delhi 1.04; Kolkata 1.0253; Chennai 0.9731; Bangalore 0.963; Punjab 0.9488; Mumbai 0.9482; Deccan 0.9211; Pune 0.8935. I feel that RR should have been in the top 4, but not Mumbai.

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