There is a special place in the annals of IPL history for Rajasthan Royals. Every league has once seen a fairy tale performance from an underdog that lives on in the memories as a shining light of the league’s open and fair structure. It is a glowing example of the land’s David and Goliath story that is celebrated with a bit of romance given its rarity in glorious manifestation.
In the IPL, Rajasthan Royals captured everyone’s attention by winning the inaugural edition itself. It was an underdog victory that will perhaps never be equalled. RR were the first money ball team of the IPL and they actually won the entire thing. Today, the RR brand is doing some tremendous work with their foundation even as their team tries to emulate the brilliance on the field.
However, over time, RR has seen plenty of stars don their jersey and pledge to Halla Bol. Thus, it makes for a fun exercise in traversing through time and picking the best players to have turned up for the franchise. As is with attempts of this ilk, some notable players will miss out in order to keep the balance of the team intact.
Hence, in selecting the XI players for our side, we have kept certain soft guidelines. Firstly, importance has been given to RR’s most successful seasons, particularly, the title-winning IPL 2008 one. Secondly, a strong consideration has been made on the home conditions of the team. In RR’s case, it is the Sawai Man Singh Stadium in Jaipur. Thirdly, the captain’s style of leadership has been taken into account. Finally, the team will comprise no more than four overseas players.
Here is the best all-time IPL XI for Rajasthan Royals.
RR best IPL team – openers
Ajinkya Rahane walks in at the top for the Royals. It must be remembered that Rahane for Royals is a different commodity. He has two IPL centuries opening the batting for the team and has surpassed the 350-run mark on 5 occasions. He is an easy pick to open the batting.
One of the finds of the 2008 season was the diminutive opening batsman Swapnil Asnodkar. The swashbuckling opener made 311 runs at a strike rate above 133 and in this team, he will have the role of the dasher to score some quick runs in the Power Play alongside Rahane.
RR best IPL team – top order
Walking in at number 3 is perhaps RR’s greatest player of all-time, Shane Watson. The Aussie all-rounder won the Player of the Tournament on two occasions – 2008 and 2013 – while playing for the Royals. In 2008’s winning campaign, he scored 473 runs and picked up 17 wickets and in 2013, he scored 543 runs while taking 13 wickets. A proper all-rounder, Watson will also captain the side.
At number 4, Sanju Samson is a no-brainer. He is the current Royals captain and sometimes, it feels as though he lacks support with his batting. In this team, he will have pedigreed batsmen around him and can fully express himself – hitting those elegant front foot sixes over cover for us to enjoy.
Numbers 5 and 6 can bat interchangeably depending on the situation – Jos Buttler and Yusuf Pathan. Buttler is a proven finisher in white ball cricket for England and can strike from ball one. Meanwhile, Yusuf Pathan for Royals is one of the destructive batsmen of IPL’s infancy. He played some unforgettable knocks that defined the early phase of the IPL. The century off 37 balls and his match-winning all-round performance in the 2008 final are glittering examples of his brilliance as a Royals player. Also, Pathan can easily chip in a couple of overs with his off-spin bowling.
RR best IPL team – all-rounders
The Royals and Rahul Tewatia will now always be synonymous. That one defining innings that turned the game around in IPL 2020 earns the plucky all-rounder a place in this team. Joining him at number 8 is another leg-spin bowler who can bat – Shreyas Gopal. He is an underrated spinner in the IPL, having picked up a hattrick comprising Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers.
Jofra Archer comes in at number 9 for the Royals. He is a premier fast bowler of our generation in T20 cricket. Archer can bowl across the 20 overs and is equally adept at picking wickets at a miserly economy rate. In 2020, as the Royals finished bottom, Archer still managed to pick up the Player of the Tournament award. Moreover, Archer is a decent finisher with the bat and has the ability to hit a long ball towards the end.
RR best IPL team – bowlers
The final overseas player of the team will not be Shane Warne. Harsh as it is, Sohail Tanvir’s Purple Cap exploits in the 2008 edition makes him take the number 10 spot on the list. In his only season, he finished with the most wickets and took his team to victory. His 22 wickets came at an economy of less than 6.5 runs per over and he is also a capable lower order batsman extending the Royals tail to number 10.
Finishing off is the experienced Jaydev Unadkat who can be a good foil to Archer’s pace and Tanvir’s wrong-footed bowling. Given Watson’s all-round ability, he will not be burdened by pressure and can bowl his cutters to good effect. This also means Unadkat can bowl the middle overs instead of the tougher ones he is usually tasked with.
RR best IPL team – coach
It perhaps needs mentioning that Warne deserves to be near the Royals playing unit given his contribution in 2008. However, due to the balance of the team, he could not find a place. It is unfair on the greatest leg spinner of our game but he will not mind his role from the dugout.
RR Best IPL team: Ajinkya Rahane, Swapnil Asnodkar, Shane Watson (C), Sanju Samson, Yusuf Pathan, Jos Buttler, Rahul Tewatia, Shreyas Gopal, Jofra Archer, Sohail Tanvir, Jaydev Unadkat
Also Read: CSK IPL all-time best XI