Thursday, April 25, 2024
Home Fantasy Cricket Rajasthan Royals: Unravelling the Stories of the 2008 Champions

Rajasthan Royals: Unravelling the Stories of the 2008 Champions

Fantasy Cricket Is the Next Big Thing

In a country where cricket is a religion, it does not come as a surprise that the popularity of fantasy sports is spreading like wildfire. Misunderstood by many as a game made up by cricket fans with an overactive imagination, fantasy cricket has almost created a frenzy that is very much evident in the country.

While the fantasy cricket app gives every single user the chance to be a sports owner, it goes much beyond that. High stakes, game analysis, excitement, anticipation, rewards and cash prizes are all by-products that those who play fantasy cricket enjoy.

Users and followers of fantasy cricket in India are slowly climbing up the rungs of the ladder, leading to its rising prominence. About 67% of 18 crore cricket fans in India are familiar with the concept of fantasy sports. There is no doubt that the future does look promising.

A fantasy cricket game allows users to make their cricket team of 11 players with a captain and vice-captain. They get to choose from a pool of 25 to 30 players. As the cricket match starts in real time, their fantasy cricket players get points based on real performance on the field in the form of runs, wickets and catches.

First IPL Winning Team: Rajasthan Royals

When the BCCI announced the establishment of the IPL (Indian Premier League), Rajasthan Royals were one among the original eight teams in the inaugural season of the 2008 edition. The team was sold to Emerging Media for $67 million, making it the least expensive team in the league.

While fans were excited about the onset of this Twenty20 competition, most of the cricket fanatics and novices had already placed their bets on the ‘so-called’ more popular teams that were led by Bollywood biggies and business tycoons.

Owing to the least amount of money spent in the auction, relatively unknown recruits devoid of stars, and pundit predictions, the fate of the Rajasthan Royals was written off even before their very first match.

After a humiliating nine-wicket defeat to Delhi Daredevils (now Delhi Capitals), the prediction that the team is likely to struggle seemed to be confirmed.

Despite being led by the legendary Shane Watson, dark clouds began to hover around the team. However, the captain did not let these negativities break their spirit. 

Warne’s captaincy, his mantra of calmness and his knack of dealing with pressure situations soon started to yield results. The game changed dramatically thereafter. 

In their first game at Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur, the team registered their first victory against Kings XI Punjab. This win was not just restricted to beginners luck. The following games in the tournament proved successful for the underdogs where the team emerged triumphant. 

With numerous players exceeding expectations, the Rajasthan Royals had soon earned a place in the semi-finals of the IPL. The match was against the same team that had defeated them in the first match of the tournament. However, that was ancient history and the Royals proved their grit once again. 

The Royals then secured a spot in the finals against MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings.

What marked the perfect end to the first ever IPL tournament, Rajasthan Royals emerged victorious in what we would call a ‘nail-biting finish’.

Crowned the inaugural champions, the Rajasthan Royals team is a true epitome of ‘underdogs to millionaires’

Rajasthan Royals: Then & Now

Following the team’s historic victory in the inaugural edition of the IPL, things began to look good for the Rajasthan Royals.

  • Businessman, Raj Kundra, and his wife and Bollywood star, Shilpa Shetty, bought 11.7 per cent stake in RR after paying $15.4 million. The actress and part-owner of the team participated in all the campaigns that were aired on television and was often seen chanting the team anthem ‘Halla Bol’ in the stands. 
  • However, the happiness for the team was short-lived. In 2009, the BCCI imposed a ban on the participation of the Pakistani cricket team in the IPL. This meant that the team had to let go of Sohail Tanvir and Kamran Akmal, the two players that played a distinct role in the team’s victory. 
  • In the 2009 IPL edition, Rajasthan Royals secured the sixth position on the table out of the eight teams in the competition. 
  • Following this, every other season seemed to end miserably for the Rajasthan Royals team. Juggling between the sixth and seventh position, they faced an early exit from every tournament. 
  • In 2013, three Rajasthan Royals players – Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila were arrested from Mumbai by Delhi Police along with eleven bookies on charges of spot-fixing in the tournament. RR immediately suspended the contracts of the three players until the investigation was complete. Since BCCI has zero toleration towards corruption, they were given a life ban from all forms of cricket. However, in March 2019, the Supreme Court lifted the life ban imposed on Sreesanth. 
  • Again in 2013, co-owner, Raj Kundra was questioned by the Delhi Police for his alleged involvement in illegal betting. After having admitted to betting on his team, Kundra was suspended from the IPL, banned for life by BCCI and all his shares were taken back. 
  • In 2015, Rajasthan Royals team was banned for two years following the Lodha Committee inquiry. 
  • In 2018, the champions of the first IPL were all set to make their comeback following the two-year ban. For this season, the Royals had retained Steve Smith for Rs. 120 million and also announced him as captain for the 2018 edition. However, he was soon asked to step down following the Australia ball-tampering controversy. Subsequently, Steve was banned from playing in the 2018 IPL season. Ajinkya Rahane was immediately appointed as the captain. 
  • In the same year, Jos Buttler scored the fastest ever 50 for Rajasthan Royals, off just 18 balls. It was also the fifth-fastest fifty in IPL history. 
  • Since 2018 marked their comeback, they played fairly well and thus managed to secure fourth place in the season, made an entry into the playoffs and finished with 14 points.
  • In 2019, Steve Smith made a comeback to IPL. Initially, Ajinkya Rahane led the team, however, Smith returned to the captaincy of the Royals after poor results were displayed.

Rajasthan Royals are in the true sense considered the ‘moneyball’ team of the IPL. 

Key Players of Rajasthan Royals

The team that had a fairy-tale run in 2008 is known for taking ordinary players and transforming them into match winners. From Ravindra Jadeja to Sanju Samson, Karun Nair, Shane Watson and Shreyas Gopal, Rajasthan Royals has nurtured successful sportsmen. 

The team had a reputation for purchasing cricketers that were not very famous, unknown or uncapped. Their frugal spending was also talked about during the mega-auctions that are held once in three years.

While some players slipped under the radar and were forgotten by fans, there are many other notable players in the Rajasthan Royals team whose contribution deserves to be remembered as they proved an asset to the team.

  • Yusuf Pathan: He was the highest run-getter for RR in IPL 2008. He also took three wickets in the final and played a crucial 56-run inning. His contribution to the team will always be remembered because it was in that year that the team emerged victorious. 
  • Shane Watson: He was the second highest run-getter in 2008 scoring 472 runs and taking 17 wickets throughout the tournament. 
  • Ravindra Jadeja: Though Jadeja’s rise in international cricket is often credited to MS Dhoni, it was the legendary Shane Warne (captain of the team in 2008), who said that this ‘rockstar’ would go places. 
  • Ajinkya Rahane: Rahane came in limelight when he scored a magnificent century in IPL. He has been the backbone of the RR side for many years and is also recognised to score the third highest runs in 2018 IPL season. 
  • Ben Stokes: Being one of the most consistent all-rounders in the league, Ben Stokes has always worked as two players in one for Rajasthan Royals. 
  • Steve Smith: Steve Smith has been associated with the Rajasthan Royals team since 2014. Though he was not allowed to play in 2018, he proved himself in 2019 and is all set to return as captain for the 2020 edition. 
  • Jofra Archer: Jofra was picked for Rs. 7.20 crore in the 2018 auction. He’s proved to be a complete package for RR with his bowling at a flashing speed of 150kph. He was also the highest wicket-taker for his side in 2018 and is expected to play a crucial role this season too.
  • Shreyas Gopal: In 2019, Shreyas Gopal took a hat-trick against Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Can Rajasthan Royals do it again?

Ahead of the 13th edition of the IPL, Rajasthan Royals has announced that they would retain eleven players and release eleven. Hoping to run the same script as the 2008 edition, Steve Smith will lead the team under the able guidance of their new Head Coach, Andrew McDonald.

Before the auction that took place on 19th December in Kolkata, the franchise retained its core team which included Steve Smith, Sanju Samson, Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Riyan Parag, Shashank Singh, Shreyas Gopal, Mahipal Lomror, Varun Aaron and Manan Vohra. 

They even underwent a three-day off season camp in Talegoan, near Pune, under the watchful eyes of Head of Cricket, Zubin Bharucha.

After retaining and releasing players, Rajasthan Royals had a total purse of Rs 28.9 crores available for the auction. They used it smartly and decided to buy Robin Uthappa, Jaydev Unadkat, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Kartik Tyagi, Tom Curran, Andrew Tye, Anuj Rawat, David Miller, Oshane Thomas, Anirudha Ashok Joshi and Akash Singh.

Among the current squad, RR had released Unadkat and Thomas whom they decided to buy back. In fact, when the franchise released the former, it came as a shock to many because he was bought at a whopping 8.5 crore, last IPL season. 

Since the Rajasthan Royals team is constantly working towards reviewing their physical and technical progress, it’s to be seen whether the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League will reap sweet fruits of their labour. 

Can they turn their fortune around and cast the winning spell once again after twelve long years?

MPL Team
MPL Team - Enjoy reading gaming, fantasy, poker, and rummy articles by the MPL team on the MPL blog.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular