Rajasthan Royals IPL 2013 April 4, 2013

Can Royals punch above their weight again?

24

Big Picture

Forever the underdogs, Rajasthan Royals is one team that has always looked like a team since the first season. They have always had big impact players and there is something in the leadership that brings out the best from them. A fairytale first season aside though, they have struggled to find consistency and have been consigned with the reputation of arguably being the best of the second-tier teams.

Unlike the men from Chandigarh, Pune and Hyderabad, they have never have had disastrous campaigns; the strong leadership may have changed hands from Shane Warne's flamboyance to Rahul Dravid's more methodical, process-driven management style, but it has kept the team cohesive and focused on cricket.

The team this year again comes in with a battery of overseas players who are experienced and effective in Twenty20s. They have men like Brad Hodge, Owais Shah, Shaun Tait and Brad Hogg who have, quite profitably for themselves, carved out a career playing the short format. Throw Shane Watson, Kusal Perera, Kevon Cooper, Fidel Edwards and James Faulkner into the mix, and the team starts appearing as a strong contender. However, with only four of these trumps available at a time, the team management will have to identify which card to pull out when.

Their fortunes, though, would depend on how the local group supports the imports. Rahul Dravid led with passion last year, but he hasn't played cricket since and this season could well be his last. Then there is Sreesanth, who will be eager to make an impact after sitting out during last year's IPL. However, it won't be a surprise if both are inconsistent. But one guy who is expected to fire straightaway is Ajinkya Rahane and the team would look forward to the kind of starts he generated last year.

What they have lacked is the stamina to maintain their intensity through the tournament. They have always had decent starts but they tend to lose steam when the race gets tighter towards the end. Take last season for example where they were in the running to qualify for knockout stage with two games to go, but they were tripped by Deccan Chargers, the poorest team in the competition. This year, with most players available from the first match and all games being played in Jaipur, Royals are in a position to give the tournament their best shot.

Key players

The man of the tournament in the first edition, Shane Watson is among the few players who have stuck with one franchise and he hasn't fared badly at all. He has scored 1242 runs from 39 games and taken 35 wickets for Rajasthan and is in the same league as someone like Chris Gayle in dismantling any bowling attack. More importantly, this season he is available for the entire duration of the tournament, although he is likely to miss the first game. It is unclear as to why he is unavailable, but it is understood that he will be catching a flight over the next couple of days to join the team ahead of their second game against Kolkata Knight Riders on April 8. He had a tough time during the recent Tests in India and didn't bowl at all, but he had indicated earlier that he might start bowling during the IPL.

He may neither be a hard-hitting batsman nor a tearaway fast bowler, but allrounder Stuart Binny's role will be an important one among the second string locals in the team. He bowls gentle medium pace with a lot of variations in speed and is coming off a decent showing in domestic cricket, with 622 runs and 27 wickets off 11 matches this season. Royals would hope Binny brings the same value to their team as Rajat Bhatia does to Kolkata Knight Riders.

Big name in

Kusal Perera's recent run of scores (64, 56, 18*, 42, 336, 97, 203) is not the only exciting part about him, it is the manner in which he scores the runs that can set this tournament alight. The Sri Lankans have been calling him the next Sanath Jayasuriya and the similarity is not just limited to the whiplash square cut. Royals may have spent the most for James Faulkner ($400,000) but Perera, bought for a steal at $20,000, could well be the investment of the tournament.

Big name out

The departure of Johan Botha from Jaipur to Delhi has left Royals poorer in the spin department, but Botha's absence will be felt in the batting as well, as he was versatile enough to come up the order. He played 24 matches for Royals, in which he scored 335 runs and picked up 19 wickets.

Below the radar

It is not all just about his name; Kerala allrounder Sachin Baby recently flogged a 19-ball 48 against Delhi in the Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy (India's domestic T20 tournament) to pull off a tough chase. His T20 strike rate is over 150 and he can fill as an offspinner too. Left-arm spinner Harmeet Singh, who impressed Ian Chappell during last year's Under-19 World Cup, could also be in the spotlight.

Availability

Royals are well-placed this year with all their players available throughout the season.

Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Narbavi on April 5, 2013, 7:50 GMT

    Dravid, Rahane, Watson, Hodge, Baby, Binny, Faulkner, Samson/Yagnik, Harmeet, Tait, Trivedi!! Cooper can be brought in on slow surfaces, and Hogg and Badree should be used as surprise weapons in a few games, there is also Owais shah who is a back up for Hodge and Perera is a back up for watson in the top order!! Menaria and sreesanth should be sidelined, would love to see what the 42yr old Tambe does if given a chance!! Exciting team this is!! lot of young talent!! the only team which fulfills the sole purpose of the ipl, promoting the local indian talent!!

  • Aayatullah on April 6, 2013, 13:10 GMT

    What r Rr doing with all those medium pacers ?Is tait injured?Truly a weak bowling line up with cooper,trivedi,shukla.And sreeshanth ,u never know what he is going 2 do?

  • Qa_ankit on April 6, 2013, 7:48 GMT

    I want to add two points here. 1. I am trying to find out the final 11 of RR but really confused. As i think RR middle order is a bit weak and also i think indian players in RR Bunch are not big hitters. So if i take Rahane, Dravid out, who are the big hitter of indian soil. So i required foriegn players to do that. So my probable 11 with batting order mite be: Rahane, Parera (As no watson for this game), Dravid, Maneria, Hodge, Faulkner/Cooper, Binny , Hogg/Badree, Amit Singh, Trivedi, Shreesanth. Now if Hogg/Badree not playing then will replace them with Harmeet and Play Tait/Edwards in place of Shree.

    2. Who is this parera (To be honest i havent seen him) : I have heared about him a lot. Tried to search about him on net but cant find anything except of latest ODI series. Keen to see him. But once watson is back, will anyone prefer Watson instead of Parera or anyone else?

  • on April 6, 2013, 7:07 GMT

    LET KUSAL PLAY, Rajasthan Royal doesn't have much to loose

  • amolrtambolkar on April 6, 2013, 5:07 GMT

    RR - the team to watch out in IPL! Dravid, Watto, Rahane, Hodge, Tait, Cooper, Kusal, Badree...ohh boy they have long list of players and all are available!! Its been a tough task ahead for selectors to pick the best 11. Let's march RR boys - Hallabol!!!

  • on April 6, 2013, 4:02 GMT

    DD Chand WarnerJayawardene* Juneja Ojha† Botha Pathan Russell Nadeem Nehra Yadav

    RR:ahane, Kusal, Dravid, Hodge, Owais, Sanju, Sachin baby, Sreesanth, Tait, Harmeet, Trivedi.

  • BeCalmAndSupportEngland on April 5, 2013, 23:16 GMT

    @ Narbavi: yes we srilankans say, if RR wants to make in impact then let kusal open.dravid and rahane give u 30 in 6overs and kusal alone with give them 60 from 6overs.60 or 30 your choice.

  • on April 5, 2013, 19:59 GMT

    Rajasthan Royals last year bought Dinesh Chandimal for $50,000...... and kept him serving drinks and warming up the benches..... Its not fair... i hope you guyz don't do the same with Kushal perera...... Maybe you guyz only buy new foreign players just to serve drinks and warm the benches....

  • binu.emiliya on April 5, 2013, 19:58 GMT

    Rahane perara dravid shah meneria hodge baby binny tait shreeshanth harmeet

  • on April 5, 2013, 16:31 GMT

    Rahane, Kusal, Dravid, Hodge, Sachin baby, Manaria, Faulkner Sreesanth, Tait, Harmeet, Trivedi maybe the team for tomorrow. And when Watson joins the team, they might face a problem of plenty. As Watson is a sure shot in the team, but Hodge and Kusal are in their form of their life. Also one problem is the middle order selection, as Sachin Baby, Ashok Manaria and Stuart Binny are all in good form. A big problem, which might not be that big to look at but is, Cooper or Faulkner!! ROYAL for life.

  • Narbavi on April 5, 2013, 7:50 GMT

    Dravid, Rahane, Watson, Hodge, Baby, Binny, Faulkner, Samson/Yagnik, Harmeet, Tait, Trivedi!! Cooper can be brought in on slow surfaces, and Hogg and Badree should be used as surprise weapons in a few games, there is also Owais shah who is a back up for Hodge and Perera is a back up for watson in the top order!! Menaria and sreesanth should be sidelined, would love to see what the 42yr old Tambe does if given a chance!! Exciting team this is!! lot of young talent!! the only team which fulfills the sole purpose of the ipl, promoting the local indian talent!!

  • Aayatullah on April 6, 2013, 13:10 GMT

    What r Rr doing with all those medium pacers ?Is tait injured?Truly a weak bowling line up with cooper,trivedi,shukla.And sreeshanth ,u never know what he is going 2 do?

  • Qa_ankit on April 6, 2013, 7:48 GMT

    I want to add two points here. 1. I am trying to find out the final 11 of RR but really confused. As i think RR middle order is a bit weak and also i think indian players in RR Bunch are not big hitters. So if i take Rahane, Dravid out, who are the big hitter of indian soil. So i required foriegn players to do that. So my probable 11 with batting order mite be: Rahane, Parera (As no watson for this game), Dravid, Maneria, Hodge, Faulkner/Cooper, Binny , Hogg/Badree, Amit Singh, Trivedi, Shreesanth. Now if Hogg/Badree not playing then will replace them with Harmeet and Play Tait/Edwards in place of Shree.

    2. Who is this parera (To be honest i havent seen him) : I have heared about him a lot. Tried to search about him on net but cant find anything except of latest ODI series. Keen to see him. But once watson is back, will anyone prefer Watson instead of Parera or anyone else?

  • on April 6, 2013, 7:07 GMT

    LET KUSAL PLAY, Rajasthan Royal doesn't have much to loose

  • amolrtambolkar on April 6, 2013, 5:07 GMT

    RR - the team to watch out in IPL! Dravid, Watto, Rahane, Hodge, Tait, Cooper, Kusal, Badree...ohh boy they have long list of players and all are available!! Its been a tough task ahead for selectors to pick the best 11. Let's march RR boys - Hallabol!!!

  • on April 6, 2013, 4:02 GMT

    DD Chand WarnerJayawardene* Juneja Ojha† Botha Pathan Russell Nadeem Nehra Yadav

    RR:ahane, Kusal, Dravid, Hodge, Owais, Sanju, Sachin baby, Sreesanth, Tait, Harmeet, Trivedi.

  • BeCalmAndSupportEngland on April 5, 2013, 23:16 GMT

    @ Narbavi: yes we srilankans say, if RR wants to make in impact then let kusal open.dravid and rahane give u 30 in 6overs and kusal alone with give them 60 from 6overs.60 or 30 your choice.

  • on April 5, 2013, 19:59 GMT

    Rajasthan Royals last year bought Dinesh Chandimal for $50,000...... and kept him serving drinks and warming up the benches..... Its not fair... i hope you guyz don't do the same with Kushal perera...... Maybe you guyz only buy new foreign players just to serve drinks and warm the benches....

  • binu.emiliya on April 5, 2013, 19:58 GMT

    Rahane perara dravid shah meneria hodge baby binny tait shreeshanth harmeet

  • on April 5, 2013, 16:31 GMT

    Rahane, Kusal, Dravid, Hodge, Sachin baby, Manaria, Faulkner Sreesanth, Tait, Harmeet, Trivedi maybe the team for tomorrow. And when Watson joins the team, they might face a problem of plenty. As Watson is a sure shot in the team, but Hodge and Kusal are in their form of their life. Also one problem is the middle order selection, as Sachin Baby, Ashok Manaria and Stuart Binny are all in good form. A big problem, which might not be that big to look at but is, Cooper or Faulkner!! ROYAL for life.

  • MENDIS_Forever on April 5, 2013, 14:29 GMT

    @Narbavi : giving al due respect to Dravid...he is in his 40s and not a great asset for the T20s.

  • on April 5, 2013, 14:10 GMT

    Kusal Janith Perera, if propoerly used by Rajastan at the top, has the potentiaql to light up the tournament. Sanga said he's got the best timing in whole of Sri Lanka. and he's in the form of his life

  • Sundara-Chandare on April 5, 2013, 14:08 GMT

    According to me-[1]Rahane[2]Kusal[3]Dravid[4]Watson[5]Baby[6]Menaria[7]Binny[8]Cooper/Fulkner[9]Sreesanth/Trivedi[10]harmeet[1]Edwards/Tait-WE ARE LOOKING FOR POCKET ROCKET DYNAMITE KUSAL...

  • Narbavi on April 5, 2013, 11:39 GMT

    Funny reading some of the comments made by srilankan fans who think RR will do well only if Kusal is given a chance to play, its obvious he won't be given a chance to play given that Dravid Rahane and Watson are their top 3 batsmen!!

  • ladycricfan on April 5, 2013, 10:31 GMT

    For Royals, except for Rahane no one is in the current Indian international setup. Being a CSK fan, sometimes you don't feel right that 5 current Indian internationals are in the CSK team. Then again, Vijay and Ashwin played for CSK first and india later. Jadeja was bought last year among all the ridicule from fans all over india. All other teams have good mix of Indian internationals and locals.

  • sudeeshpkd on April 5, 2013, 10:12 GMT

    Rahane, Kusal, Dravid, Hodge, Owais, Sanju, Sachin baby, Sreesanth, Tait, Harmeet, Trivedi..........This is the probable eleven for tomorrows match

  • on April 5, 2013, 9:57 GMT

    If Rajistan royals give an opportunity to open the innings to KUSAL, then i will be with royals for entire season,IF THEY DO THEN RAJASTHAN IS ONE STRONG COMPETITOR TO THE TITLE,and i and many srilankans will be with royals for this season

  • justcricket1 on April 5, 2013, 9:32 GMT

    I think Royals need to correct one big problem that is they play well in first 80% of league matches but play very badly in last 20%, that makes them out of the knockouts, this is their problem since last 3-4 IPL seasons, they will miss the knockouts by 1-2 wins, I hope Dravid and team work on this in this season.

  • BRUTALANALYST on April 5, 2013, 9:21 GMT

    I think Samuel Badree could play a big part after watching him in the T20 world cup for West Indies.

  • on April 5, 2013, 8:35 GMT

    Royals if you want to go all the way play Kusal Perera top of the order consistently and he is one of the best keeper in Sri Lanka at the moment.

  • on April 5, 2013, 8:05 GMT

    But still a tough task to pick a balanced seven local players: Rahane, Srisanth, Binny, Trivedi, Baby and the other two? Dravid, Harmeet, Menaria, Wicket Keeper- They haven't done enough home work. However, would be a pleasant surprise if they perform above their weight!

  • sanji23 on April 5, 2013, 8:00 GMT

    You forgot to mention one key player:Samuel Badree.He is a much more effective bowler then Botha.His economy rate is 4.83(in t20!!!).And he together with narine pretty much won the World Cup for Windies.How come there is no word about him?

  • ncpasan on April 5, 2013, 7:57 GMT

    gonna watch their matches just to see Kusal Perera batting....... if he clicks they will go all the way for sure....

  • Acetone on April 5, 2013, 7:36 GMT

    no mention of trivedi. very very good bowler. reliable and has had good form in all of his IPLs

  • Acetone on April 5, 2013, 7:36 GMT

    no mention of trivedi. very very good bowler. reliable and has had good form in all of his IPLs

  • ncpasan on April 5, 2013, 7:57 GMT

    gonna watch their matches just to see Kusal Perera batting....... if he clicks they will go all the way for sure....

  • sanji23 on April 5, 2013, 8:00 GMT

    You forgot to mention one key player:Samuel Badree.He is a much more effective bowler then Botha.His economy rate is 4.83(in t20!!!).And he together with narine pretty much won the World Cup for Windies.How come there is no word about him?

  • on April 5, 2013, 8:05 GMT

    But still a tough task to pick a balanced seven local players: Rahane, Srisanth, Binny, Trivedi, Baby and the other two? Dravid, Harmeet, Menaria, Wicket Keeper- They haven't done enough home work. However, would be a pleasant surprise if they perform above their weight!

  • on April 5, 2013, 8:35 GMT

    Royals if you want to go all the way play Kusal Perera top of the order consistently and he is one of the best keeper in Sri Lanka at the moment.

  • BRUTALANALYST on April 5, 2013, 9:21 GMT

    I think Samuel Badree could play a big part after watching him in the T20 world cup for West Indies.

  • justcricket1 on April 5, 2013, 9:32 GMT

    I think Royals need to correct one big problem that is they play well in first 80% of league matches but play very badly in last 20%, that makes them out of the knockouts, this is their problem since last 3-4 IPL seasons, they will miss the knockouts by 1-2 wins, I hope Dravid and team work on this in this season.

  • on April 5, 2013, 9:57 GMT

    If Rajistan royals give an opportunity to open the innings to KUSAL, then i will be with royals for entire season,IF THEY DO THEN RAJASTHAN IS ONE STRONG COMPETITOR TO THE TITLE,and i and many srilankans will be with royals for this season

  • sudeeshpkd on April 5, 2013, 10:12 GMT

    Rahane, Kusal, Dravid, Hodge, Owais, Sanju, Sachin baby, Sreesanth, Tait, Harmeet, Trivedi..........This is the probable eleven for tomorrows match

  • ladycricfan on April 5, 2013, 10:31 GMT

    For Royals, except for Rahane no one is in the current Indian international setup. Being a CSK fan, sometimes you don't feel right that 5 current Indian internationals are in the CSK team. Then again, Vijay and Ashwin played for CSK first and india later. Jadeja was bought last year among all the ridicule from fans all over india. All other teams have good mix of Indian internationals and locals.