Royals prepared for new homes - Dravid
Besides being famous as the Pink City, Jaipur is also known as the City of Forts and Rajasthan Royals, the city's franchise, know that as they have enjoyed an enviable record at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium. But for the second year in succession, Royals will be playing their home games in a different city.
While Ahmedabad hosted Royals' home games during the India leg last year, this season their home games will be played in Ahmedabad and Mumbai. Rahul Dravid, the team mentor, admitted that they were getting used to their adopted homes.
"We are playing at home. We are playing in Ahmedabad and Bombay is home now. Obviously we miss [Jaipur] at a certain level. Jaipur was a place where we did very well and it was a ground we were very familiar with," Dravid said at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai, which will host three of Royals' home games this season.
"I think the fact that we played in Ahmedabad last year should really help us. Last year lot of us went in to Ahmedabad quite cold. There was a tournament in Dubai as well, so it felt like we were playing all the 14 games away from home."
Royals had an impeccable record in Jaipur, winning 29 of the 38 games in the first six seasons. But they couldn't play in Jaipur in IPL 2014 as Rajasthan Cricket Association failed to get the requisite clearances from the government authorities. This year, the question of staging games in Jaipur didn't even arise since the RCA remains suspended from the BCCI.
While Royals enjoyed a good run at the Motera in Ahmedabad in 2010, winning three of the four games, they had a mixed bag last year. Of the four games they played there, they won two. Still, Dravid expected better results at Motera in IPL 2015.
"This year it's a bit different. We have had a small camp in Ahmedabad, we have been there last year. We are more used to the conditions there," Dravid said. "CCI [Brabourne] as well. it is a terrific ground to play cricket. It's great venue and we are looking forward to playing here. Everyone is very excited to playing here at the CCI and opportunity to play at this great ground."
After training at the CCI for two days, Royals will head to Pune where they will open their campaign against Kings XI Punjab.
Captain Shane Watson, who joined the squad on Sunday night along with his World Cup-winning teammates Steve Smith and James Faulker, stressed that with the depth in the squad and numerous matchwinners, Royals were no longer underdogs this year.
"The squad that we have got for this IPL season, we have got matchwinners all the way through this whole team whereas normally, in the past we didn't have as much as we do now. We have got world-class matchwinners as well so for me that is a very exciting thing, the group that we have got together for this IPL season," Watson said.
"We normally are underdogs but the quality of the players we have through our squad and the team that we play as well, we got to know what we have got and what we are able to achieve and that is a very exciting thing. The most important thing in the IPL is getting off to a good start with the way the season has mapped down this year a lot of games back to back to start. So we know we have to hit the ground running and with the quality of players we got I am sure we will."
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo