Rajasthan Royals stunned everyone by winning the inaugural edition of the IPL. Ever since that triumphant season, they have faced ups and downs both on and off the pitch. In the 10 seasons that they have been involved in, they have reached the playoffs on four occasions but have never reached the final after Shane Warne’s men did the unthinkable in 2008. They are a team based in Jaipur and play their home matches at Sawai Mansingh stadium.
They are often referred to as the “Moneyball” team of the IPL due to their approach to recruiting players. Over the years, Rajasthan Royals have been able to hone talented players like Ravindra Jadeja, Sanju Samson and Shreyas Gopal. They have appointed skippers like Shane Warne and Rahul Dravid, who have taken young players under their stride and helped them gain confidence and experience.
The team was suspended for 2 seasons from 2016 to 2017 on disciplinary grounds, but they made a good comeback in 2018 by reaching the playoffs. In Shane Watson, they have had one of the most valuable players in IPL history. Another feature in Rajasthan Royals’ policy in acquiring players is their eye for spotting talented foreign players like Kevon Cooper, Jofra Archer, James Faulkner and D’Arcy Short who had previously shined in other T20 leagues.
Let us take a look at their all-time best XI:
1. Ajinkya Rahane
Ajinkya Rahane is the first batsman which springs to mind when you think of Rajasthan Royals. After a few years with local side Mumbai Indians, “Jinks” was bought by Rajasthan Royals in 2011. One could argue that Rahane is another player who was discovered through the IPL as he made his debut for India following a string of strong performances for the Royals.
In the first game of IPL 2012, He hit a match-winning 98 against Kings XI Punjab and followed that up with an unbeaten 103 against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Rahane became the first batsman to hit a century that year and finished the season as the leading run-scorer for Rajasthan Royals. His tally for 560 runs in 2012 is the most he has ever scored in a single season.
He has established himself as one of the most dependable batsmen at the top of the order. He has always been among the runs, having never failed to score less than 300 runs in a campaign since the 2012 edition. Overall, the classy batsman has an aggregate of 3820 runs, 3098 of which have come while playing for Rajasthan Royals and that is enough for him to be their all-time highest run-scorer.
2. Shane Watson
Shane Watson was injured before the inaugural season of the IPL but his decision to play paid off as he went on to win the Man of the Tournament award. His impressive showing at the IPL helped him make his way back into the Australian squad. He is not only Rajasthan Royals’ 2nd highest run-scorer but also their highest wicket-taker of all time. His inclusion in this team was a no-brainer.
In the first edition of the IPL, Watson scored 472 runs and picked up 17 wickets in an all-round effort in a season which ended with Rajasthan Royals being crowned champions. Although he missed the 2009 season due to national duty and injury, he has been consistent in all fields of the game throughout his association with RR which lasted till 2015.
“Watto” scored a century off 61 balls, hitting six fours and six sixes. His strong performances continued and he subsequently went on to win the 2013 Most Valuable Player award. Watson parted ways with the Rajasthan Royals after it was announced that they would be temporarily suspended for two years. He has scored 2474 runs and claimed 67 wickets for RR and this has given him legendary status at the Sawai Mansingh stadium.
3. Rahul Dravid
There is no doubt in Rahul Dravid’s ability in the longer formats of the game, especially in Test matches, but whether he could translate that form into IPL cricket was still to be discovered when he was selected as the icon player for Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2008. Following a few years with RCB, he joined Rajasthan Royals in 2011 and was made the captain of the side in 2012.
Dravid took the role of captain-coach during his last 2 seasons with the Rajasthan Royals. He was influential in their “Moneyball”-like policy in recruiting talented cricketers for cheap. Dravid was one of the main reasons why RR were able to challenge the stronger sides of the IPL in 2013 as they reached the playoffs in the IPL and lost in the finals of the Champions League T20.
“The Wall” had a much better experience with the bat after he swapped the red jersey of RCB for the purple jersey of RR. He scored 1324 runs in his three years with Rajasthan Royals. His best campaign came in final season in 2013 as he scored 471 runs which included 4 half-centuries. He left a huge mark on Rajasthan Royals as they are still considered to be the team who gives chances to youngsters.
4. Jos Buttler
Unlike the other players in this all-time XI, Buttler joined RR only in 2018. After spending a couple of average seasons with the Mumbai Indians, Buttler was drafted by the Rajasthan Royals. He is the only player out of the four standout overseas players plying their trade for Rajasthan Royals at the moment, i.e. captain Steve Smith and English teammates, Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer.
Jos Buttler was inspirational during his first season at Rajasthan Royals. The Somerset-born wicketkeeper-batsman amassed a total of 548 runs as RR reached the playoffs of the tournament for the first time since 2015. He missed the final few matches of that campaign due to international duty and to say that RR missed him would be an understatement.
He followed that season by scoring 311 runs in just 8 matches in 2019 which has taken his aggregate to 859 runs during his stint at RR. Buttler has had a huge impact on RR’s fortunes in the last two seasons. He revived their campaign in 2018, and, in a way also revived his international career as he made it to the England Test side owing to his superb show in the IPL.
5. Sanju Samson
Sanju Samson came into the spotlight with his valorous knocks for Rajasthan Royals in his debut season for the franchise. The wicketkeeper-batsman from Kerala was nurtured by Rahul Dravid into a tough campaigner. He has enjoyed two good spells with Rajasthan Royals from 2013-2015 and from 2018 onwards. Between both these stints at the Jaipur based team, he played for Delhi Daredevils.
In 2013, Samson scored 206 runs at the tender age of 18 and his efforts won him the best young player award for that season. He scored 339 runs in the next season and after an average outing in 2015, he was released by Rajasthan Royals. Rahul Dravid decided to purchase Sanju in the auction for Delhi Daredevils where he continued his growth as a cricketer.
He returned to Rajasthan Royals in 2018 and scored 441 runs, which is his highest in a single season so far. In 2019, he scored a brilliant century, taking his tally of centuries to two as he had scored one for Delhi Daredevils in the 2017 season. Samson has scored 1724 runs for RR and is only behind Rahane and Watson on the list of highest run-scorers for the side.
6. Yusuf Pathan
Rajasthan Royals decided to purchase Yusuf Pathan for the first season of the IPL because of his performances in the domestic circuit. He was one of their star players as Shane Warne’s men charged their way to the first IPL title. He is one of the few players who could make a case for being in the all-time XI of three different teams. Pathan is known for his explosive batting style and ability to pick up wickets during the middle overs with his off-spin.
In IPL 2008, he scored 435 runs and took 8 wickets. He recorded the season’s fastest half-century which came off only 21 balls against the Deccan Chargers. He won the Man of the Match against the Chennai Super Kings as the underdogs were crowned champions of the inaugural edition of the IPL. As his importance increased in the team, he was selected as the vice-captain for the 2010 edition of the IPL.
Pathan scored a century off 37 balls against Mumbai Indians in 2010, which was a record at that time. The innings also included 11 consecutive hits to the boundary which included 6 fours and 5 sixes (6, 6, 6, 6, 4, 4, 6, 4, 4, 4, 4). He has scored over 1000 runs for RR as well as contributing with his off-break bowling by taking 20 wickets. He parted ways with Rajasthan Royals in after the 2010 season.
7. Stuart Binny
Stuart Binny started his IPL career at Mumbai Indians in 2010 but didn’t get a lot of playing time. He joined Rajasthan Royals in 2011 and has spent the majority of his IPL career over there. His numbers are nothing compared to someone like an Andre Russell or a Hardik Pandya, but he has been a loyal servant for Rajasthan Royals and played a key role, especially in 2013.
His first stint for Rajasthan Royals was from 2011 to 2015 and his best season during those years was in 2013 as he scored 293 runs at a respectable average of 32.55 with a healthy strike rate of 147.23. He also picked up 6 wickets during the 2013 campaign and conceded only 6.75 runs per over. Binny joined Royal Challengers in 2016 following the suspension of Rajasthan Royals.
His services were acquired by Rajasthan Royals in 2018 after the fulfilment of their ban. His performances after returning to Rajasthan Royals have been sub-par, to say the least, and he was released by the franchise after the 2019 campaign. During his days at RR, he managed to score 812 runs and also contributed 18 wickets in 78 matches.
8. James Faulkner
James Faulkner will forever be remembered for his man of the match performances in the final of the 2015 ICC World Cup, but he had made a name for himself in the IPL back in 2013. He played one season each for Pune Warriors India and Kings XI Punjab in 2011 and 2012 respectively before joining Rajasthan Royals in 2013. He spent three fruitful seasons with Rajasthan Royals.
In 2013, the Aussie all-rounder picked up 28 wickets but still didn’t win the purple cap. His 28 wickets in 2013 is the second-highest in a single season of the IPL. 5 of these 28 wickets came in a single match against Sunrisers Hyderabad. He continued his rich vein of form in the IPL by taking 11 wickets and scoring 181 at a strong average of 45.25 runs and a blistering strike rate of 180+.
During his last two seasons at Rajasthan Royals, he got more opportunities to bat but his economy rate went from 6.75 during the 2013 edition to a figure close to 10 in the following campaigns. He joined Gujarat Lions in the 2016 season for reasons mentioned earlier in the article. Faulkner will be playing for Kings XI Punjab for the upcoming IPL season which takes place in UAE.
9. Shane Warne
Shane Keith Warne was the only foreign player to be selected as the icon player for a side in the 2008 IPL season. He has not only been a captain on the pitch but has taken his leadership and man-management skills to the next level by coaching the side during the latter stages of his career. He shocked the cricketing fraternity by lifting the IPL trophy in 2008 after being written off before a ball was bowled.
With 708 wickets in the longest form of the game to his name, Shane Warne is arguably best Test bowler of all time, but he was extremely effective in the shortest format of the game as well. He picked up 19 wickets in the season where Rajasthan Royals won the IPL title. He was at the non-striker’s end as purple cap winner Sohail Tanvir scored the runs which earned them the IPL title.
He followed that campaign by taking 14, 11 and 13 wickets in the next three seasons. He ended his Rajasthan Royals with a total of 57 wickets in his four years which puts him 3rd on the list of leading wicket-takers for the team. Similar to Rahul Dravid, Shane Warne’s influence on the entire squad has been an invaluable asset to the team. He will be leading this XI.
10. Siddharth Trivedi
Siddharth Trivedi is one of the forgotten men of the IPL. He was one of the most consistent uncapped Indian players who faded away with time. In the IPL, he played for the Rajasthan Royals, who won the 2008 competition. During a win against the Mumbai Indians, Trivedi changed the course of the game with a spell that included the wickets of Sachin Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya establishing him as a firm fan favourite.
He picked up 13 wickets in the 2008 season. Apart from the 2009 campaign, wherein he took 6 wickets in 7 matches, Trivedi picked up 10-15 wickets each year for Rajasthan Royals. Despite his consistent performances, he did not receive a call-up to the national side. He is RR’s second-highest wicket-taker of all time, having dismissed 65 batsmen at a strike rate of 22.1
In 2013, Trivedi was banned for 1 year after he failed to report that bookies approached him, even though he had no involvement in match-fixing or spot-fixing during the IPL corruption scandal in 2013. Since his return to cricket, there have been no signs of him making a return to IPL which is really sad considering how underrated he was during his term with Rajasthan Royals.
11. Munaf Patel
While players like Ajinkya Rahane and Shane Watson were easy inclusions in this XI, this selection might cause a bit of a debate. Munaf Patel played for Rajasthan Royals during the first three seasons. He picked up 14 wickets in the 2008 campaign which contributed in RR winning the IPL. He took 16 wickets in the next season, which came at a stingy economy rate of 6.91.
One could make a case for Pravin Tambe or Shreyas Gopal to be included in Rajasthan Royals’ all-time XI, but Munaf Patel’s role in their title-winning campaign and his successful stint for the Mumbai Indians, give him the edge over the spin duo. Moreover, with Shane Warne and Yusuf Pathan, there are enough spin options in the team. Munaf Patel took a total of 33 wickets during his time at Rajasthan Royals.
He joined the Mumbai Indians in 2011 and picked up 22 wickets in his debut campaign with the Wankhede outfit. He took 15 wickets in the 2012 campaign which made him one of the highest wicket-taking bowlers in the IPL at that time.
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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