The team that heavily relies on youngsters and less on foreign talent, Rajasthan Royals are surely the best talent factory of the Pepsi IPL. They head into every season as primary underdogs. After winning the Inaugural edition back in 2009, the team has had on and off patches every season till 2012. When the leadership of Rahul Dravid brought back the confidence in the side and they’ve been in the top draw ever since. It was all great for this team even last season, when they unfortunately lost to Mumbai Indians in the race for playoff qualifications. Backed by the Bollywood queen Shilpa Shetty and under the mentorship of ‘The Wall’ Rahul Dravid, they haven’t failed to impress us every single time. And  it’s the same swansong for the Jaipur franchise this season. Here I review the Rajasthan Royals of 2015.

Departures : Unmukt Chand (MI), Iqbal Abdulla (RCB), Brad Hodge, Kevon Cooper, Ankush Bains

Arrivals : Chris Morris, Rusty Theron, Pardeep Sahu, Sagar Trivedi, Brainder Singh Saran, Dinesh Salunkhe

Like every season, this season too the Rajasthan Royals have bagged more of less known talents. The only main signings for them are in the form of two South African all rounders in Chris Morris and Juan ‘Rusty’ Theron, while getting local talents in Pardeep Sahu, Sagar Trivedi and Barinder Singh Saran, also welcoming back Dinesh Salunkhe. They’ve done some smart shopping like they do every auction. Their key strength will rely on batsman like they’ve been doing every season while adding good backups to the bowling department this season. Here we take a look at how they might line up this season. :-

Ajinkya Rahane : Ever since his arrival in Rajasthan, Ajinkya has been one of the main batsman of this Rajasthan side. And he has excelled very well under his mentor and idol Dravid. And years later he has also became a main batsman of the Indian side as well. He would bank on all the achievements he has had over the years being a ROYAL. Could be used for giving key starts and set up a base for a good score.

Karun Nair : The Karnataka batsman had cemented his place in the side last year, keeping the likes of rising stars likeUnmukt Chand and Deepak Hooda out. And coming off a dream run in domestic circuit where he smashed a triple ton to lead K’taka to second successive Ranji triumph, he’d be no way kept out of the team. His ‘steadiness and hitting when required’ approach will keep the team running and raring to go.

Shane Watson : The captain and the longest serving member of this team, Watson has been a core figure of Rajasthan since it’s inception back in 2008. He has been a match winner with both bat and ball. And a recent World Cup triumph up his bag, confidence must be sky high for this Queenslander. Would lead from the front in both the departments. And after his World Cup win, much would be expected from him in RR.

Sanju Samson : The Kerala wicket keeper was the golden find of Rajasthan Royals to Indian cricket, earning him a callup to the Indian team. But hasn’t debuted yet sadly. But would be looking to do more to earn it once again and establish himself in the national colours with another spectacular IPL season. Was retained by the side last season and proved his owners right why they did so. More will be expected from this 19 year old talent.

Steve Smith : The ‘Sydney superman’ as he is fondly called, he heads into this IPL as the highest run scorer in all formats in 2015. He was in the form of his life when he scored four centuries against India in all 4 tests followed by being the leading run scorer for Australia in their World Cup win. And over the years in IPL his form has been brilliant as well, stand out performer for Pune and Rajasthan last year. And would flourish even more under Dravid to turn out to be a key asset to the team.

Stuart Binny : A controversial call up to the Indian team saw his reputation being denounced. Though he holds the record as the best bowling figures by an Indian in ODI, his selection certainly raised eyebrows indeed. And IPL is exactly the ground where he can prove his credentials to be picked in the Indian team. Could play the role of a finisher.

James Faulkner : World Cup hero for Australia in the finals, Faulkner has the highest morale among the team members, winning the Man of the Match award in the finals. And his death spells would be crucial. Not to forget his batting, the main finisher is what he will be.

Rajat Bhatia : The experienced medium pacer from Delhi, Rajat doesn’t need any introduction when it comes to IPL. He was the go to man for Shane Watson, picked up wickets at regular intervals. And could add some runs with his batting too. Can be alternated with Deepak Hooda or Ankit Sharma if they decide to go for an extra spinner.

Tim Southee : Coming off an impressive World Cup where he held the record of best bowling performance, he would be expected to lead the paceline along with Faulkner. But known for leaking runs, Rajasthan would use Chris Morris instead of him if they want an all round fast bowler. Only time will tell whether Southee will play or his alternates.

Dhawal Kulkarni : The medium pacer from Mumbai, who made his debut in the International side, is also another front line bowler for Rajasthan. Known for pace variations, his early swings with the new ball could be deadly and he’d be often used in the Powerplays.

Pravin Tambe : The 43 year old leg spinner, who lit up the IPL last season with the hat trick against KKr, is also another bowler who wouldn’t be benched by RR. Could be mainly used in the middle overs.

Moreover, Rajasthan would heavily rely on their batting more than their bowling. They can win them games at crucial stages of the game. Will they repeat their feat of 2008, or will they fall unlucky yet again like the past three years. They would surely keep the HALLA BOL say rising. 😀

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