This article is part of our IPL Preview series.
Rajasthan Royals are always termed as the underdogs in the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL), and the reason is their policy of relying on young local talent more than anything else. The franchise was the cheapest in the bidding process and was acquired by the Emerging Media group for $67 million in the year 2008. Rajasthan stunned everyone by becoming the first-ever team to lift the IPL trophy in the inaugural season, but was involved in a fictitious bidding scandal, because of which the franchise was banned for two season and resumed their cricketing activities in the 11th edition of the competition.
Rajasthan's return pretty much went as per plan as the team went on to qualify for the playoffs where they eventually lost to the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the Eliminator. The team will be led by India's veteran middle-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane, who will have the coaching assistance Paddy Upton. Former Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne, who was the captain of the Royals in the first edition and led the team to that famous triumph, will be with the franchise as team mentor.
In the batting department, the team will be heavily relying on captain Rahane to lead from the front and he will have the assistance of local talents like Manan Vohra, Rahul Tripathi, Sanju Sampson along with foreign players like England's Jos Buttler, Australia's Ashton Turner and England's Liam Livingstone. The franchise will also be hopeful that former Australia captain Steve Smith will join the team somewhere in the middle of the tournament as he is currently recovering from an elbow injury.
On the bowling front, the team management will be relying on the likes of veteran pacer Dhawan Kulkarni, left-armer Jaydev Unadkat, right-arm fast-bowler Varun Aaron, England's Jofra Archer, West Indies' Oshane Thomas and New Zealand's leg-spinner Ish Sodhi to dismantle the opposition's batting lineup. The team also the services of all-rounders like England's Ben Stokes and India's Stuart Binny to bring stability in the playing eleven.
Highest score by Rajasthan Royals of 223-5 came in the match against Chennai Super Kings (SCK) in 2010, whereas highest score of 246-5 against Rajasthan came in the same match as well. Rajasthan's lowest total of 58 came in the match against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in 2009, whereas lowest score of 70 against Royals was registered by RCB, but in the 2014 season. Rajasthan's biggest victory in terms of runs came in the match against Delhi Daredevils in the inaugural edition where they emerged victorious by 105 runs, whereas their biggest defeat came in the match against RCB in 2009 where they were thrashed by 75 runs.
Highest individual score of 104 not out for Royals was registered by former Australian all-rounder Shane Watson in the match against KKR in 2015, whereas highest individual score of 127 against Rajasthan came from CSK's Murali Vijay in 2010 edition. Captain Rahane holds the record for most runs (580) in a single season for the franchise which he achieved in 2012, whereas he also holds the record for most runs (2,705) scored by any Rajasthan player in the history of IPL.
Best bowling figures of 6-14 for Royals came from Pakistan's Sohail Tanvir in the inaugural edition in the match against CSK, whereas RCB's Anil Kumble holds the record of best bowling figures (5-5) against Rajasthan in the IPL history. Australia all-rounder James Faulkner holds the record for most wickets (28) for the Royals in a single edition of the league which he did in 2013, whereas Watson holds the record for most number of wickets (67) by any bowler for Rajasthan in the IPL history.