IPL team preview: Rajasthan Royals
The Wall is no longer about as a player, leaving the skippering to Aussie all-rounder and Royals veteran Shane Watson, who must mash together a large group of inexperienced locals and mainly Antipodean foreigners.
<b>Captain</b>: Shane Watson<br><b>Coach</b>: Paddy Upton<br><b>IPL Best</b>: Winner (2008)<br><b>Cricket365 prediction:</b> Third
<b>Overview</b><br>The Royals had to deal with an uncertain build up to the tournament, with questions about whether they'd be chucked out due to match-fixing allegations and dodgy dealings by the top brass, but they were given the go-ahead, and now have to get their heads in the game. After winning the first ever IPL, they dropped down the standings until last season, where some inspired captaincy from Rahul Dravid saw them finish third. But The Wall is no longer about as a player, leaving the skippering to Aussie all-rounder and Royals veteran Shane Watson, who must mash together a large group of inexperienced locals and mainly Antipodean foreigners.
<b>Key Batsman</b><br>India batsman Ajinkya Rahane is probably the most experienced local player in the side, and the young Indians will look to him for guidance, while the side will need him to fire at the top of the order. It's not the strongest batting line up, to be honest, so Rahane, Watson and Steve Smith will shoulder much of the pressure. Rahane's local knowledge will be vital, and he's been in impressive form this year.
<b>Key Bowler</b><br>Last campaign saw the rise of the previously unknown West Indian spinner Kevon Cooper, who rattled opposing orders with regularity. He finished with 19 wickets, and though he was not the side's top wicket taker (that was James Faulkner) he played fewer games. On the decks in the UAE, we're going to tip Cooper to best his Aussie pace colleague, at least during the first leg of the contest
<b>Likely Benchwarmer</b><br>Phew, tough one. This squad is rather obscure and either a teenager, or over 30. We're going to take a bet that Ankush Bains, the 18-year-old back up wicketkeeper, will carry drinks more often than not. Sanju Samson and Dishant Yagnik will get the gloves ahead of him. We think.
<b>They Said</b>: Sanju Samson on Rahul Dravid's retirement: "Rahul sir will not be missed. I know he will not be there as a captain, but we will have him around as a mentor. He is my idol. I have learnt a lot from him. He will be in a different role altogether but I will try to continue to learn as much as I can."
<b>Squad</b>: Amit Mishra (not the India international), Ankit Sharma, Ankush Bains, Rajat Bhatia, Stuart Binny, Unmukt Chand, Kevon Cooper, Ben Cutting, James Faulkner, Brad Hodge, Deepak Hooda, Iqbal Abdulla, Dhawal Kulkarni, Vikramjeet Malik, Karun Nair, Abhishek Nayar, Ajinkya Rahane, Kane Richardson, Sanju Samson, Steve Smith, Tim Southee, Pravin Tambe, Rahul Tewatia, Shane Watson, Dishant Yagnik.
<b>Fixtures</b><br>Fri Apr 18 Sunrisers Hyderabad v Rajasthan Royals<br>Sun Apr 20 Rajasthan Royals v Kings XI Punjab<br>Wed Apr 23 Rajasthan Royals v Chennai Super Kings<br>Sat Apr 26 Rajasthan Royals v Royal Challengers Bangalore<br>Tue Apr 29 Kolkata Knight Riders v Rajasthan Royals<br>Sat May 3 Delhi Daredevils v Rajasthan Royals<br>Mon May 5 Rajasthan Royals v Kolkata Knight Riders<br>Thu May 8 Rajasthan Royals v Sunrisers Hyderabad<br>Sun May 11 Royal Challengers Bangalore v Rajasthan Royals<br>Tue May 13 Chennai Super Kings v Rajasthan Royals<br>Thu May 15 Rajasthan Royals v Delhi Daredevils<br>Mon May 19 Rajasthan Royals v Mumbai Indians<br>Fri May 23 Kings XI Punjab v Rajasthan Royals<br>Sun May 25 Mumbai Indians v Rajasthan Royals
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