The men from the Pink City must be hoping to put behind them the blues of the past. After all, they will enter Jaipur’s Sawai Mansingh Stadium on the night of March 25 dressed in pink — instead of blue, their traditional colour.
After Shane Warne led them to a stunning triumph in the IPL’s inaugural edition in 2008, it hasn’t exactly been a joy ride for Rajasthan Royals.
It could not even ride for two seasons: they were grounded following the spot-fixing scandal.
On their return last year, the prodigals made it to the Playoffs, that too without their designated captain, Steve Smith.
He was serving a one-year suspension for his role in Australia’s ball-tampering scandal.
The IPL is the first step in his journey to redemption. If his show in six previous editions of the tournament is anything to go by — 1703 runs at an average of 37.02 and strike rate of 131.7 — the Royals could certainly bank on him.
When you add the brilliant Jos Buttler, the resourceful Ajinkya Rahane — it would be interesting to see how the captain’s World-Cup ambitions impact his batting — the gifted Sanju Samson and the competent Rahul Tripathi, you get a batting line-up of top quality.
But they have to fire as a unit. Buttler had carried them on his strong shoulders for much of the business end of the last IPL.
His England team-mate Ben Stokes is also capable of winning a match or two on his own with his big strokes in the middle-order.
The all-rounder would be keen to make up for his less than satisfying efforts in the last edition, in which he was the costliest buy at ₹12.5 crore.
Jaydev Unadkat was bought for ₹11.5 crore. Though his bowling too often proved expensive, the Royals management has put faith in the left-arm seamer once again, buying him back for ₹8.4 crore.
Besides Stokes and Unadkat, England’s Jofra Archer, who excelled for the Royals in his maiden IPL, West Indian Oshane Thomas, Dhawal Kulkarni and Varun Aaron offer plenty of options in pace bowling.
Ashton Turner — at ₹50 lakh one of the best buys at this year’s auction — K. Gowtham and Shreyas Gopal can not just turn the ball but also whack it into the stands as well.
Turner won’t be available for the first three matches because of national duty. The likes of Buttler and Smith too would be forced to miss part of the IPL for the same reason.
If men such as Manan Vohra, Ish Sodhi and Liam Livingstone can fill those voids, this Royals side could still be in the pink of health when the IPL enters its last lap.