Rajasthan Royals ended up being the third best team in the last year`s IPL. Led by Rahul Dravid, the Royals won the hearts of several cricket fans with their determination to excel, despite lacking too many big names in their squad.
Under the stewardship of Rahul Dravid – who will perform mentor`s role this time, the Royals` performance showed some signs of improvement, though only to perish at the play-offs.
The team often considered as the under-dogs, is best at stunning the oppositions. The young boys who are coached and mentored under the brilliance of Paddy Upton and Rahul Dravid, make it a point to make their presence felt, whenever they get an opportunity.
The highlight of this franchise, is the way they promote all sorts of players despite their age and experience. While 19-year-old Sanju Samson seems to be the brightest youngster in the tournament, 42-year-old Pravin Tamble grabbed the opportunity with both hands when he got to play a few matches last year. Tambe not only impressed the best of experts with his variations, but also touched the hearts of the cricket fans through his journey to the Rajasthan squad.
The auction for IPL 7 was quite satisfactory for RR. Known for picking an economical team, owners successfully bought players like Steven Smith, Tim Southee into the fold, while retaining match-winners -- Ajinkya Rahane, Shane Watson, Stuart Binny, James Faulkner, and Sanju Samson.
Rajasthan further strengthened their squad with the inclusion of Rajat Bhatia, someone who isn’t a big name, but has done exceptionally well for Kolkata Knight Riders over the years.
Rajasthan now have a new skipper in Shane Watson, who has been an integral part of the squad. The Australian all-rounder has single-handedly won several matches for Rajasthan, and the team management would want him to lead from the front with some more of such knocks.
Key signings: Steven Smith, Tim Southee, Pravin Tambe, Rajat Bhatia
Strength: Royals have a unique style of managing the team, which extracts impressive performances even from fringe players. The young players, no matter how inexperienced they are, play with fire in their bellies. And with this appetite, the group every now and then emerges as a dark horse, surprising other opponents.
Apart from Shane Watson, the Royals don`t have a batsman who can play a swashbuckling knock every now and then. The team also depends a lot on Brad Hodge, to win matches from precarious circumstances. When put under too much pressure, this is a team which often loses the momentum.
Indian players: Ajinkya Rahane, Stuart Binny, Sanju Samson, Rajat Bhatia, Unmukt Chand, Iqbal Abdulla, Dhawal, Kulkarni, Abhishek Nayar, Pravin Tambe, Dishant Yagnik, Amit Mishra, Ankit Sharma, Ankur Bains, Deepak Hooda, Vikramjeet Malik, Karun Nair, Rahul Tewatia
Overseas players: Shane Watson, Tim Southee, Kevon Cooper, Ben Cutting, James Faulkner, Brad Hodge, Kane Richardson, Steven Smith
Probably playing eleven: Unmukt Chand, Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson, Shane Watson, Steven Smith, Brad Hodge, Stuart Binny, James Faulkner, Dhaval Kulkarni, Rajat Bhatia, Pravin Tambe