A string of smart purchases for reasonably small money continues to serve the Royals well. James Faulkner and Kevon Cooper, particularly, have put in performances far beyond their reasonably small signing fees.
<b>Captain:</b> Rahul Dravid<br><b>Coach:</b> Paddy Upton<br><b>2012 CLT20:</b> Did not play<br><b>C365 Rating:</b> 7/10<br><b>Betting Odds:</b> <a href='http://www.paddypower.com/bet/cricket/champions-league-20' target='_blank' class='instorylink'>5-1</a>
<b>Strengths</b><br>A string of smart purchases for reasonably small money continues to serve the Royals well. James Faulkner and Kevon Cooper, particularly, have put in performances far beyond their reasonably small signing fees.
Few batsmen, if any, have scored more runs in domestic Twenty20 competition than Brad Hodge. While the Australian is off his country's radar, he remains a firm fixture to the hopes and ambitions of his adapted franchise.
All four games will be played at the home ground – Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. This bodes well for momentum and morale, with almost no travel arrangements allowed to get in the way of practice and team spirit.
<b>Weaknesses</b><br>The suspension and subsequent banning of Shantha Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and company for match-fixing has hurt morale. Shaun Tait was implicated, but later cleared.
The exit of Shane Warne is still a work in progress. The former Australian leg-spinner was instrumental in galvanising the squad over multiple seasons, but now Rajasthan must formulate life after him.
Questions remain over Rahul Dravid's role in a Twenty20 team. Captain and opening batsman, the responsibility is, indeed, on his veteran shoulders to answer his critics with big contributions.
<b>Star Player</b><br>Karnataka-born all-rounder Stuart Binny has emerged as a superb finisher and a solid all-rounder, doing his father Roger, who used to play for India, very proud.
<b>Bench Warmer</b><br>The Royals sport as many as four Australian recruits, with at least one of them, probably Faulkner, likely to fall down a pecking order dictated by a cap which demands no more than four international players per XI.
<b>They Said</b><br>"Rahul has become a world class Twenty20 batsman, which is an unbelievable achievement. As one of the best Test batsman he understands the game well. He got the job done like a surgeon." – Royals sign-off Aaron Finch.
<b>Squad</b><br>Rahul Dravid, Stuart Binny, Kevon Cooper, James Faulkner, Brad Hodge, Vikramjeet Malik, Ashok Menaria, Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson, Rahul Shukla, Shaun Tait, Pravin Tambe, Siddharth Trivedi, Shane Watson, Dishant Yagnik.
<b>Fixtures</b><br>Saturday, 21 September: v Mumbai Indians, Jaipur<br>Wednesday, 25 September: v Lions, Jaipur<br>Sunday, 29 September: v Perth Scorchers, Jaipur<br>Tuesday, 1 October: v TBC, Jaipur
Jofra Archer and Matthew Wade left their Ashes rivalry on the pitch as they were spotted chatting and laughing in the post-series drinks.
Justin Langer has expressed doubt about David Warner’s ability to rediscover top form after he was terrorised by Stuart Broad in The Ashes
As cricket fans we’ve been bombarded by averages, over rates and bowling speeds this summer. Here are some of the lesser talked of numbers..
Joe Root knows England have “something special” in Jofra Archer but says England must manage their expectations of their star man
The Ridiculous Ashes final result is in, featuring a Mitchell Marsh five-fer and Jonny Bairstow’s shithousery
Australia captain Tim Paine was happy to share a beer with England’s players after a fiercely-contested Ashes series ended level at 2-2.
Outgoing England coach Trevor Bayliss admits taking charge of Australia would tempt him back into international cricket
We suspect both England and Australia got what they really came for this summer.
Calls for a super over to decide the Ashes have sadly been ignored.
A truly remarkable summer for English cricket concluded at the Oval.