Rajasthan Royals is probably IPL’s grand romantic tragedy. They gave us highs, they gave us lows and then they gave us the lowest. Most Rahul Dravid fans would probably never forgive them. Here is a man whose name translates to ‘sportsman spirit’ and ‘gentleman behaviour’ and he ended up captaining and later mentoring a team that was suspended for betting related scandals and worse still, had players who were involved in spot-fixing.
But, Rajasthan Royals were the IPL’s Moneyball team, the underdog everyone wanted to support. The team also registered many ebbs and lows, going from the top team of the league to a team that was suspended for illegal betting activities.
Then there were the heartbreaks of 2013 when they lost to Mumbai Indians in the second qualifier and again in 2014, when they lost to Mumbai Indians in the last league game of the season (MI had chased down 189 in just 14.4 overs to push Royals to fifth spot and make it to the qualifiers).
The Royals were originally sold to a consortium of investors that included Murdoch’s Blue Water Estate, Kuki Investments, promoted by Raj Kundra (who was married to Shilpa Shetty), Nigerian-based Chellarams, Ryan Tkalcevic and Emerging Media, for which, Manoj Badale was the Chairman.
At $67 million, Rajasthan Royals were the least expensive of all the inaugural IPL teams. Nevertheless, the brand received a huge spurt after their win in the inaugural season.
The team logo has two lions blowing the war horn on either side of the letters RR, fancifully designed, with the team name below it.
The team was coached by Paddy Upton. The Royals played their home matches at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur, Sardar Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad and Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai.
Rajasthan Royals wore a combination of blue and gold for their jerseys with a helmet, which after the blue matte finish design was introduced, became one of the prettiest helmets in IPL. Over the years, the jersey with Ultratech Cement as the prime sponsor on the front with two gold stripes on either side became the trademark of the team.
While the design and colours have remained much the same sponsors have changed with Floriana and HDFC Life also being associated with the team at one point. The team’s mascot is a lion named Moochu Singh.
Captains and tournament history
Rajasthan Royals have fielded a total of 73 players, of which Shane Watson has appeared for the most number of matches. The team has been captained by three Australians, Shane Warne, Shane Watson and Steve Smith. Rahul Dravid captained it for two seasons – 2012 and 2013.
While Warne captained the team for 56 matches, Dravid did so for 40, managing a better win percentage than Warne himself. Dravid won 23 and lost 17 while Warne won 31 and lost 24 with one tie out of a total of 56 games.
Rajasthan’s best season was the inaugural one in 2008 when they lifted the trophy, defeating Chennai Super Kings in a humdinger that went right down to the wire. Their success percentage that year was a whopping 78.57, the next highest being 62.5% in 2013. They finished third in 2013 under Rahul Dravid and fourth in 2015.
Between 2009 and 2012, the Royals struggled, ending up sixth, seventh, sixth and seventh for four years before the resurrection under Dravid took place with a fine set of core, young players like Karun Nair, Stuart Binny, Kevon Cooper and Sanjay Samson and veterans like Brad Hodge.
The Royals were also the 2013 Champions League runners-up losing to another IPL team, the Mumbai Indians. Ajinkya Rahane and Shane Watson are their leading run-getters. Watson scored 2127 runs while Rahane piled on 1795 runs. Siddharth Trivedi and Shane Watson are their leading wicket-takers with 68 and 61 wickets respectively.