IPL 2019: Rajasthan Royals Looking for a 2008 Repeat

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IPL 2019
Rajasthan reveal their IPL 2019 kit

When IPL first began, way back in 2008, many expected the likes of Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings, Royal Challengers and the like, succeed. However, it was the underdog team, the Rajasthan Royals, who took the inaugural title. Now, we are in IPL 2019 and every team is back at it again.

Team Profile

Rajasthan are one of the eight original teams in the IPL. In addition to that, they also have the honour of being the first ever winners. Back in 2008, they were considered the weakest team. These claims were further supported when Rajasthan lost their first match to Delhi. But then, Shane Warne’s captaincy pulled them out of the rut and onto one of the biggest comebacks.

A year later, they came into the tournament as defending champions, but surprisingly, not the favourites. Eventually they ended up 6th in the league and since then, they have been  floating around the midfield.

However, this change is more cosmetic than a change of nomenclature. To be precise, the team opted to ditch their normal blue and go pink instead. Their explanation was that they wanted to embrace the traditional colour of the city.

The team’s sponsors include the likes of JK Lakshmi Pro Cement, Jio, Kei, INOX, Alcis and Dream 11. JK Lakshmi Pro Cement will take on the role of title sponsor for the Jaipur-based team.

Prior to all their controversies, the team was owned by Raj Kundra and after the team came back following the 2-year ban, they were taken over by Manoj Badale.

Background and History

In 2010, Rajasthan and Kings XI Punjab were nearly banned by the BCCI. After a court case, the BCCI’s case was rejected as they wanted to keep the Rajasthan Royals out of the IPL for six-weeks while the case was sorted out. That year, they ended the season in 7th out of 8 teams.

2011 was a troublesome year, owing to off-pitch drama, but they managed to finish 6th in the league. In 2012, there were back down to 7th in the table. A year later, despite all the drama and controversy, they managed to end up 3rd in the IPL.

In 2014, they were down to 5th in the league table but ended up 4th in 2015 and 2018, qualifying for the playoffs. 2008 was their best ever year with 11 wins, 3 losses and no draws. The second best was in 2013 with 10 wins, but 6 losses

But in 2013, the team was once again brought under the scanner for a spot-fixing scandal. As a result, three players were banned from all forms of cricket. The accused players were, Ankeet Chavan, Ajit Chandila and S Sreesanth. In 2015 though, the team was banned alongside the Chennai Super Kings for 2 years. This was mostly in relation to the Lodha panel enquiry. But now, the team are back after serving their ban.

Since then, they have been just hanging in there, in the middle of the table. But, they are still a force to be reckoned with. They had a bad time, when they were embroiled in the corruption scandal and were suspended, alongside the Chennai Super Kings for 2 years.

Their return in 2018, was expected to be a triumphant one, but it was not to be, and that honour went to CSK. Now, just like the Capitals, they too, have elected for a change.

Their first match of IPL 2019 will be against Kings XI Punjab at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium at home.

Transfers

With regard to transfers, Rajasthan have not made any major changes to their team. However, they did manage to snag Jaydev Unadkat from Royal Challengers Bangalore. Other new recruits include Varun Aaron, Oshane Thomas, Shashank Singh, Shubham Ranjane, Manan Vohra, Ashton Turner and Riyan Parag.

Key Players

In IPL 2019, some of the crucial players in the squad will be skipper Ajinkya Rahane, Steven Smith, Ben Stokes, Jaydev Unadkat and Jofra Archer.

Availability

Unfortunately, they will be dealt a big blow as England will be playing a one-off ODI against Ireland and later, an ODI series against Pakistan. Both fall in the month of May and some players will be recalled to the national side. This will no doubt, leave several IPL teams, including Rajasthan, hobbled. So, it is just a matter of overcoming this issue and continue their IPL 2019 campaign.

When the England players do leave, Rajasthan will be without the services of Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Liam Livingstone for their IPL 2019 run.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Last year, the team was a picture of inconsistency with their star players failing to fire. Even skipper, Ajinkya Rahane was unable to inspire his men to rally forth to victory. But hopefully for their sake, IPL 2019 brings about better fortune.

One of their core strengths in IPL 2019 is star fire power. The team boasts of heavy hitters in the form of Ben Stokes and Rahane himself. Also, if we’re being honest, Stokes isn’t half bad with the ball either.

Another strong player of theirs, Jaydev Unadkat, misfired last year, but the Royals still trust him. Back in 2017, the 27-year old was the second highest wicket-taker, hopefully for Rajasthan’s sake, he is able to replicate that form in IPL 2019.

Squad and Expected 11

Squad: Ajinkya Rahane, Jos Buttler, Steven Smith, Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Rahul Tripathi, Shreyas Gopal, K Gowtham, Jofra Archer, Jaydev Unadkat, Dhawal Kulkarni, Varun Aaron, Prashant Chopra, Manan Vohra, Aryaman Birla, Stuart Binny, Shashank Singh, Liam Livingstone, Shubham Ranjane, Ashton Turner, Riyan Parag, Mahipal Lomror, Ish Sodhi, Oshane Thomas, Sudhesan Midhun

Expected 11: Ajinkya Rahane, Jos Buttler, Steven Smith, Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Shreyas Gopal, K Gowtham, Oshane Thomas, Stuart Binny, Ish Sodhi and Varun Aaron

ES take on their 2019 campaign

Hopefully for the sake of the team, they are able to shake off the demons of all their controversies behind them. For now, all we can do is sit back and enjoy the season as it happens. Will Rajasthan Royals bring home their second trophy?

Rajasthan training ahead of IPL 2019