Rajasthan Royals IPL 2014 preview April 12, 2014

Understated Rajasthan seek balm to fixing wounds


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Agarkar: Lack of games in Jaipur will hurt

Likely first XI

1 Ajinkya Rahane, 2 Shane Watson (capt), 3 Steven Smith, 4 Sanju Samson (wk), 5 Brad Hodge, 6 Stuart Binny, 7 Abhishek Nayar, 8 James Faulkner, 9 Rajat Bhatia, 10 Pravin Tambe, 11 Dhawal Kulkarni
Full squad

2013 finish

A fantastic home run helped them finish third.

Big Picture

For Rajasthan, the last year was one of their more memorable ones. In Rahul Dravid's farewell year, the team of economy players remained unbeaten in their home ground and with 10 wins in 16 games, registered their best finish since winning the title in 2008. Ironically, the year was also one they would want to expunge from their memories. In the middle of their charge, a spot-fixing allegation shook the team to the core. The aftershocks were felt all through the year and were only quelled (perhaps temporarily) when the Supreme Court of India decided not to dissolve the franchise.

If there were clouds of doubt hanging over the Rajasthan table during the auction, the team's decision-makers seemed immune to them as they set about spending their cash, all the while keeping in line with their frugal philosophy. Take Pravin Tambe for instance. The legspinner was bought for a chor bazaar price of Rs 10 lakh (US$ 16,000). The only time they loosened their purse strings was for Steven Smith, who at Rs 4 crores (US $666,000) was not a bad buy. Two of the best utility cricketers from India - Rajat Bhatia and Abhishek Nayar - were added too, all it seems keeping in mind the Saab-like make-up of the team - understated, but efficient. In this team, those two allrounders will have a wider role.

Rajasthan's batting is still heavily dependent on the thrust from their twin engines, Ajinkya Rahane and Shane Watson, who will need consistent support from their lesser-known players if the team is to reprise last year's form and break free from the dark shadows.

Big players

How Rajasthan transform their little known players into match-winners is a case study in itself. Take James Faulkner for example. The allrounder played in two leagues without causing a single striation. Zero star value. Check. No frightening pace. Check. Some batting ability. Check. Australian. Check. A bag of tricks. Check. Five checks and bingo, Rajasthan had hit on the magic formula. With two five-wicket hauls last season, Faulkner turned out to be the jack in the box. Since then, he has also shown glimpses of his destructive ability with the bat and is likely to be a vital cog in Rajasthan's plans.

Rajat Bhatia is not very different form Faulkner. He keeps a low profile, but is highly valued for his contributions with the ball. His skills as a batsman stayed largely unexploited in big-banner teams, but that first-class average that is nudging 50 will not go unnoticed with Rajasthan. No wonder he was their third-most expensive buy at the auction.

Bargain buy

Only eight runs currently separate Chris Gayle and Brad Hodge, T20's top two run-scorers. Not the same could be said about the difference in their market values though. While Gayle would command a figure with a long trail of zeroes, Hodge was bought for Rs 2.4 crore (US $400,000). Add to that his value as an occasional offspinner and his versatility in the field and the price that Rajasthan paid for him appears to be a steal.


No availability issues at the moment.


9/1, meaning Rajasthan are not one of the favourites.

Odds provided by Bet365

Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • android_user on May 7, 2014, 6:01 GMT

    I wished to comment earlier on that least favourite thing... but I waited for some facts to suport the arguement... think a glimpse of the table will be enough to disprove that 1/9 thing

  • SamWintson92 on April 18, 2014, 8:13 GMT

    Shane Watson should open.

  • sreehk on April 18, 2014, 6:56 GMT

    Couldn't agree more with the above eleven. Batting looks solid. Bowling is a concern. If Faulkner has an off day then they are in trouble. Expect higher scores against Rajastan. But also expect them to chase bigger totals. Rajasthan and SRH are contrasts in bowling and batting. If the side batting first scores 160+ will win.

  • dummy4fb on April 17, 2014, 17:03 GMT

    Tim Southee has to play in the team because he will be letheal with his death bowling. Steve Smith is next AB Devilliers in the making mark my word....he will do the job of Brad Hodge. So Southee for Hodge and Unmukt for Abhishek. Also i think Iqball Abullah will play as the main spinner!

  • dummy4fb on April 17, 2014, 13:51 GMT

    Underdogs from season one never a team which boasts off and plays as a unit.Each day someone turns out as hero and thats how a team should play.On its day can surprise any big team or the so called top class teams.With Dravid behind the team as mentor I expect some magic from them.Sure to make to play offs rest wherever they reach this will be my favorite team any day any season

  • dummy4fb on April 17, 2014, 13:37 GMT

    Why dont they retain Owais Shah. He is the star of the world

  • jee1 on April 17, 2014, 11:43 GMT

    The team Cricinfo have selected has too many allrounders ,all being medium pacers(Binny/Bhatia/Nayar).. And if Faulkner has a bad day,then bowling will be at the hands of Indian bowlers.. So,they shd bring in a foreign fast bowler(Southee/Cutting/Richardson) for Steven Smith , and play Kaun Nair/Unmukt Chand as a higher order batsman in place of Nayar.. And in spinner friendly pitches of UAE, Abdulla/Hooda can play in front of Bhatia.. All the best for RR,the underdog team every season..

  • NIKSTERROR on April 17, 2014, 10:38 GMT

    Steven Smith should be replaced with either Ben Cutting or Tim Southee in the probables . Ben Cutting is little known but he is a hard hitting batsman and power finisher moreover he can bowl pace . Batting looks good for RR knowing Faulkner could bat too but bowling needs to be reconsidered as Trivedi is not available this time who was economical and took crucial wickets at the right time.

  • D-Coach on April 17, 2014, 10:07 GMT

    RR in Batting Order 1. A.Rahane, 2. U.Chand, 3. S.Watson, 4. S.Samson, 5. S.Smith, 6. B.Hodge, 7. S.Binny, 8. J.Faulkner, 9. R.Bhatia, 10. (i)D.Kulkarni / (ii)D.Hooda, 11. P.Tambe

    RR missing the proper opening batsmen but their ability to make individuals to heroes is immaculate. The current team is stronger in paper for ODI than T20 with many medium pace all-rounders. Team is filled with good match winners and they might bring surprise package of U.Chand in the regular opening and possible to bring D.Hooda the spinning all-rounder to strengthen the spin department.

    All the best RR for IPL 2014.

  • dummy4fb on April 17, 2014, 9:50 GMT

    RR has never been a team with superstars.. they create their own superstar players! look at how guys like sanju,faulkner,rahane, binny have transformed into a different class of players... RR looks very strong in this edition with all their bases covered.. Bhatia,Tambe and steve smith are going to be the X factors in the team.. we can expect RR to finish one among top 4..

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