Indian Premier League: Prudence pays off for Rajasthan Royals

The Twenty20 club side have made great use of limited funds so far, writes Osman Samiuddin.

Rahul Dravid, right, will hope Shane Watson returns to form after a poor Test tour of India. Prakash Singh / AFP
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They were the league's first real success story and the first side that became everybody's second-favourite. They barely spent any money that first season, invested smartly in local talent, had a wizard of a captain/mentor/coach in Shane Warne and won the inaugural edition at a canter.

Since then, however, they have gradually slipped. Association with Lalit Modi, the now-exiled founder of the league, probably has not helped. They still have a touch of stardust in the presence of their owner and Bollywood star, Shilpa Shetty. But the sheen has gone and mid-or-lower-table mediocrity has kind of set in.

Prospects

There is little to suggest that

will emerge from their mid-table slumber this season. They have rarely been extravagant at the auctions and this season was no different, with captain Rahul Dravid and Shetty controlling matters on the day.

In Fidel Edwards, they have picked up a potential bargain (a snip at US$210,000); his skiddy, slingy pace and full lengths mean he will win at least a couple of games on his own.

will probably be rearing to go after

as well, and with Shaun Tait to boot, much will depend on this trio.

Star foreign signing

James Faulkner has always been highly rated in Australia as an all-rounder and he is a good purchase from Kings XI Punjab. And RR have got a pretty handy complement of foreign players in Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, Watson and Shaun Tait.

But it is probably Edwards on whom more hinges. His international career has never quite taken off, though he has had more than his share of moments. It is difficult to know why, too, given his attributes. But if he can get his out-swinger going up front and find his yorker range at the death, he will go well, as will RR.

Star Indian player

Ajinkya Rahane's time is here and now. Almost. He has been on the fringes of breaking through to the national side for some time now he averages 62 in first-class cricket. Last season he was one of the few bright spots for RR, excelling at the top of the order.

He held the orange cap awarded to the leading run-scorer for much of the season, though he ended it disappointingly. He still finished third in the run charts, with 560 and had a strike rate of nearly 130. His runs will again be vital this season.

Previous history

The Cinderella tale of the very first year, when they could do nothing wrong.

Since then, however, they have lost their way.

In the four seasons since, they have not finished higher than sixth place. Last season was not as bad as it appeared, however.

Though they finished seventh, they had a chance to make the play-offs with two games to go. They lost both.

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