Rajasthan Royals took the first IPL in 2008 by storm with impressive performances to win the lucrative T20 tournament, which has gone on to become one of the most watched cricket spectacles in the world.
But, the Royals have not quite been able to hit those heights since 2008, where Yusuf Pathan introduced the world to his big sixes along with Shane Watson's consistency. The Australian was awarded the Man of the Series as well.
That is a part of their history now and they would be eager to start IPL 2015 with a bang and try to prove that their win in 2008 was not a flash in the pan.
As has been the case in previous editions of the IPL, Rajasthan Royals are devoid of those flamboyant players, which teams such as Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore possess, but they have players who are primarily the unsung heroes for their national sides along with some promising youngsters.
They have been a team based on strong characters, which never gives up and fights till the last ball is bowled. It is such strong will and determination, which has helped them cross the finishing line in crucial games.
As the mentor of the Rajasthan Royals, Rahul Dravid put it aptly by saying when they pick a team, they look for players who have performed in the Ranji Trophy as well.
Some Indian names which standout for the Rajatshan Royals are Ajinkya Rahane, who has been earning a good name at the international level, Karun Nair, a consistent performer for Karnataka, Sanju Samson, India bright young hope, Stuart Binny, a potent all-rounder in the T20 format, and Dhawal Kulkarni, the best Indian pacer for the Rajasthan Royals.
But, it is their foreign players, which might prove to be their trump cards. Shane Watson (capt), James Faulkner, Steve Smith, Tim Southee are four such players, who are going to be crucial for the Rajasthan Royals.
With such top Australian cricketers (Watson, Smith and Faulkner) in their ranks, they could lift the team with their positive attitude apart from their performances on the field, especially having been a part of Australia's World Cup-winning side.
The Royals seem to have a solid batting lineup with players such as Rahane, Smith, Watson, Nair, Samson and add to it the all-round batting ability of Faulkner and Stuart Binny, they are a dangerous side.
In the bowling department as well, they have a decent attack led by Tim Southee, who was in good form with the ball in the recently concluded World Cup. He needs to be supported well by other bowlers such as Kulkarni, Faulkner and Watson.
Faulkner was impressive last season with a batting strike rate of 192 and also managed to bag 11 wickets. When on song, this Aussie batsman can clear his left leg and score maximums at will.
Pravin Tambe, after his splendid performance in the last IPL, will be crucial for the Royals during the middle overs of the game. His leg breaks caused problems to many batsmen in IPL 2014 and Watson will expect the bowler to come up with a repeat performance.
Key Player: The team will look to the services of the Australian Smith, who has been in amazing form of late. The Aussie batsman scored 402 runs in the World Cup and was instrumental in Australia winning the title. A similar performance from the Australian could take the Royals all the way. He has not been hugely impressive in any of the IPL seasons, but this could just be his year.
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