Owned and chaired by Manoj Badale, Rajasthan Royals were one of the original eight teams from the inaugural Indian Premier League season. Despite being the least expensive franchise in the IPL, and arguably the least fancied team to taste success early on, the Royals defied the odds to win the first IPL campaign, but successes since then have been few and far between.
Based at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur, the Royals are known for unearthing talented cricketers but have also had their fair share of high-profile stars turn out in the famous blue and pink kit. In the inaugural IPL season the likes of Graeme Smith, Darren Lehman, Younis Khan, Shane Warne and Shane Watson were amongst the Royals squad, with home favourites including Mohammad Kaif, Munaf Patel and Siddarth Trivedi. In recent years, Steve Smith, David Miller, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Jos Buttler have donned blue and pink alongside local heroes such as Robin Uthappa, Varun Aaron and Jaydev Unadkat,
After a superb 2008 season which saw captain and coach Shane Warne lead the team to their one and only IPL tournament win to date, the Royals failed to reach the play-offs for the next four seasons. Defeat to the Mumbai Indians in 2013 ended their campaign in the play-offs before RCB knocked them out at the same stage two years later.
After being suspended for two years on charges of spot-fixing, the Royals missed out on the 2016 and 2017 seasons before returning in 2018 when they were once again knocked out in the play-offs.
Memorable moments for the Royals include their record chase against Deccan Chargers in 2008 when they chased down 215 while personal milestones include Yusuf Pathan’s 37-ball century against Mumbai Indians in 2010. Sohail Tanvir’s 6/14 against Chennai Super Kings is one of the best bowling performances in IPL history while James Faulkner’s 28 wickets in IPL 2013 is a return bettered only by Dwayne Bravo in the same season.
Four players have taken hat-tricks in blue and pink, the first being Ajit Chandila in 2012 and the most recent coming in 2019 when Shreyas Gopal took a hat-trick against RCB.
Indian top-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane has scored the most runs for the Royals in IPL history with 3,098 to his name, including two centuries. Shane Watson is arguably the Royals’ finest overseas player having scored 2,474 runs between 2008 and 2015 while other standout players include Rahul Dravid, Sanju Samson and Yusuf Pathan.
The highest individual score is held by Rahane who scored 105* from 63 balls against the Delhi Capitals in 2019, while Watson holds the distinction of having hit the most sixes with 109 and Jos Buttler has the best average of 47.72 from 21 innings.
With the ball, Watson again tops the list with 67 wickets in 76 innings, closely followed by Siddharth Trivedi with 65 and Warne who took 58 wickets between 2008 and 2011.
The well-travelled batsman-wicket-keeper joined the Royals in 2020 having enjoyed spells with Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Pune Warriors India and Kolkata Knight Riders. Uthappa was an Orange Cap winner in 2017 and holds the record for the most consecutive 40+ scores in IPL history with 11.
Another experienced T20 player in the Royals ranks is right-arm seamer Aaron who has played for four IPL franchises before signing for the Royals in 2019. His experience and variety in white-ball cricket will be crucial as he leads a relatively inexperienced Royals seam attack.
Purchased by the Royals in 2018 having also played for them between 2013 and 2015, Samson has been quick to make an impression on his return to the franchise. Awarded best young player in the IPL in 2013 and having scored his maiden century against RPS in 2017, Samson will be an important part of the Royals top-order.
A Royal since 2014, Smith is one of the finest players to have ever played for the franchise. In 2015 he was given the captaincy and led the team to the play-offs. With almost 5,000 international white-ball runs there’s no doubt Smith will be key if the Royals are to lift the trophy again in the coming years.
Bought for a massive 12.5 Crore in 2018, Ben Stokes has been one of the most sought-after players in IPL cricket over the last few years. In just two years Stokes has scored 319 runs for the Royals at a strike rate of over 120 and taken 14 wickets in 18 innings and has established himself as the world’s premier all-rounder.
One of the most destructive players in the shorter formats of the game, England wicket-keeper is a real match winner. Buttler joined the Royals in 2018 and top-scored in his first season with 548 runs before scoring a further 311 in just eight innings the following season..
With Australian Steve Smith leading the team on the field, off the field another Australian is hoping to guide the Royals to a second IPL success.
Andrew McDonald was appointed Head Coach in 2019 having previously been bowling coach for RCB as well as assistant coach for the Australian national side. McDonald has plenty of experience playing T20 franchise cricket having played BBL cricket and IPL cricket in the past, with his IPL spells seeing him turn out for Delhi Daredevils (2009-2011) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (2012-2013).
Fellow countryman Rob Cassell is positioned as fast bowling coach while Amol Muzumdar and Sairaj Bahutule are batting coach and spin bowling coach respectively.
Chances of Success in 2020?
Although the Royals have some of the most high-profile overseas stars in the competition, those players don’t stick with the team throughout the tournament and what is left simply isn’t enough to go all the way. The strength in depth the squad has isn’t as strong as the other franchises and so it is no surprise to us that the bookmakers have them down as huge outsiders to life the trophy in 2021.