Rajasthan Royals although considered as one of the outsiders before the start of the tournament, had a good run in last season’s IPL. Coming up just short of a place in the final.
The expectations will be much greater on the side this season in IPL 7, both as the result of last season’s performances, and as a consequence of keeping a hold of five of their key players from last year’s squad, and adding a number of high profile players around the international circuit, such as Steven Smith from Australia and Tim Southee from New Zealand.
Shane Watson who played so well last season, will lead the side in IPL 7, as Rahul Dravid has now taken on a different responsibility, that of mentoring the squad. Despite the change in leadership, it is difficult to imagine The Royals changing the way that they approach the competition.
Steven Smith, and the returning Ajinkya Rahane, Brad Hodge, Sanju Samson and Stuart Binny will be expected to score the bulk of the runs and at a rapid rate, in support of the skipper.
Southee will lead the bowling attack, which proved to be the side’s achilles heel last season. Though in part that was due to the spot-fixing and betting scandal that afflicted the tournament, with key bowlers S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila, Ankeet Chavan and Siddharth Trivedi all banned for their part in the scandal.
Southee will find himself backed up by the likes of James Faulkner and Kevon Cooper, while the presence of domestic players such as the former India Under-19 World Cup winning captain Unmukt Chand and the experienced Rajat Bhatia should also add some edge to the bowling attack.
If the Royals can make their new home ground a fortress as they did last season, then they may spring a few more surprises in IPL 7, and with the added experience of last season’s campaign under their belt, they may just take their challenge to the next level.