Rajasthan Royals is one of the initial eight Indian Premier League franchises from the city of Jaipur. The team plays most of its home matches at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur and the Sardar Patel Stadium at Ahmedabad.
Rajasthan Royals won the inaugural edition of the IPL in 2008 under the awe-inspiring captaincy of the charismatic Shane Warne, by defeating a strong Chennai Super Kings in the finale.
In what turned out to be the only piece of silverware in their IPL history, Shane Watson was awarded the Most valuable player award and Sohail Tanvir, out of nowhere grabbed the purple cap for being the highest wicket-taker.
The Royals are owned by Manoj Badale (Co-owner Shilpa Shetty) and have made a name as a team capable of unearthing hidden talent coupled with backing young players to the hilt. Royals were written off by media even before the start of the tournament and this was justified in the first game with a 9-wicket loss to Delhi Daredevils.
Apart from winning the inaugural edition of IPL, Royals also reached the final of Champions League T20 in 2013, losing out to Mumbai Indians in the end.
In the seasons gone by, Shane Watson, Ajinkya Rahane, Shane Warne and Rahul Dravid have been the face of Royals, with later two also doubling up as a coach. They have also been well served by James Faulkner, Shane Warne and more recently veteran Pravin Tambe in the bowling department.
Shane Watson remains the most capped player for the team, having played 74 matches scoring 2127 runs and picking up 61 wickets.
The career trajectory of the club
Going into IPL 2008, Rajasthan Royals were considered as the underdogs of the league and were definitely a first choice for winning the title. However, thee team did the reverse and went on to win the inaugural season of IPL proving all the predictions wrong.
The Royals traveled to South Africa for the 2009 IPL as reigning champions and were hotly fancied to repeat their success. However, despite not reaching the playoffs they won some thrilling encounters and unearthed some exciting young Indian talent in the process.
In 2010, a disastrous start followed by a remarkable recovery which saw the Royals, led once again by Warne, on the brink of a spot in the playoffs. However, bad luck in the form of injuries to key players, unlucky run outs and a crucial dropped catch saw the team fail at the last – despite a valiant campaign.
The year 2011 was a massive one for the Royals. It saw the end of one legendary career, as skipper Shane Warne decided to hang up his whites for the final time, which saw the arrival of another all-time great Rahul Dravid. For the first time Rajasthan got off to a winning start, but this campaign was to prove a rollercoaster affair.
However, the team did not have a fruitful next season and the story read similar script with Royals unable to rise to the occasions at precious moments in the games, thereby never repeating their past heroics.
The fans of the Royals are one of the most loyal ones among the IPL franchises. Notwithstanding the inconsistent performances through the years, the fans of the franchise flock their home stadium at every home game and they are also well received at the neutral venues because of their style of play.
With the return of franchise this year, we can expect the Royals to get back to business in a stunning fashion with Steve Smith their most dependable player already retained.