IPL preview: Rajasthan hoping focus on talent pays off

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Inaugural winners of the Indian Premier League back in 2008, the Rajashthan Royals have always been proud to do things their own way.

As 9/1 rank outsiders to land the seventh edition of the hugely popular Twenty20 tournament, they’ll have to continue to think outside of the box if they’re to be successful once again.

Six years ago the Royals secured the maiden IPL title despite having the least expensive squad assembled.

Granted, the roster contained international stars such as Shane Warne and Aussie team-mate Shane Watson.

But the Royals’ emphasis on nurturing homegrown talent has always been apparent.

Indian all-rounder Yusuf Pathan stepped up to the plate to take three wickets and smash 56 runs in their thrilling three-wicket win over the Chennai Super Kings in the tournament’s first ever showpiece event.

And the current crop of emerging stars will have to follow Pathan’s lead if Rajasthan are to mount a serious challenge in this year’s IPL.

Last term’s third-place finish in league play was the franchise’s best performance since their initial success with defeat to eventual champions Mumbai Indians in the second qualifier ending their campaign.

However, despite having 2013’s Man of the Tournament Shane Watson back to captain the side the Royals might be hard-pushed to achieve a repeat finish in the top four.

The Royals have retained Watson, James Faulkner, Ajinkya Rahane, Stuart Binny and Sanju Samson while also adding the likes of Steve Smith and Tim Southee to their ranks.

Veteran Australian batsman Brad Hodge will also be called upon to add some firepower to the Royals’ line-up.

But beyond those names the side will be hoping a host of unsung heroes can emerge to lift the team to their previous heights.

23-year-old bowler Kane Richardson has another chance on the big stage having barely featured for Pune Warriors last year.

Meanwhile, batsman Unmukt Chand is given the opportunity to fulfil the promise that brought him the captaincy of the World Cup-winning India U19 side in 2012.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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William Geldart

William contributed to a number of online football blogs before finally finding his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow alongside the rest of the Ladbrokes News team. Now indulging passions for football, horse racing, greyhounds, boxing and political betting. Supports Wycombe Wanderers and can be spotted at various lower league and non-league grounds across the country.