Rajasthan Royals went through varied emotions during the course of IPL 8. They began with a bang, winning five matches in a row, trampling opponents along the way, then slid unexpectedly losing as many games in the second half, as they had won in the first. Things came to a stage where they needed to beat Kolkata Knight Riders to finish at number four, and just scrape through into the play-offs. They managed to achieve the same, but clearly were not the same team by the time the knockout match came around. In the end, their tournament ended in a whimper, but was on rather expected lines.
Rajasthan began their campaign with a comprehensive 26-run triumph against Punjab. They then proceeded to beat Delhi Daredevils by three wickets. This was followed by a comprehensive 7-wicket thrashing of Mumbai, and powerful wins against Hyderabad and Chennai, by 8 and 6 wickets respectively. Their winning spell was finally broken when Punjab beat them in the Super Over. In the next match, Bangalore trampled them by nine wickets. They were unlucky as the next two matches were rained out. They had lost their rhythm by now, and went on to lose to Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai, beating only Delhi. As mentioned above, the last match win against KKR took them to the play-offs.
Without doubt Ajinkya Rahane is the first name that comes to mind. For most part of the tournament, he was the leading run-scorer, before David Warner eventually overtook him. Rahane finished the series with an amazing tally of 540 runs in 14 games at a impressive strike rate of 130.7. He was consistency personified at the top of the order, scoring as many as four fifties at an average of 49, with a best of 91 not out. He was majorly responsible for Rajasthan making it to the play-offs.
Shane Watson also came to the party towards the second half of the tournament. In 10 games, he scored 347 runs at a strike rate of 135 with one hundred and one fifty. He averaged 43.3 with a best of 104 not out. Not great numbers, but better than the rest. Medium pacer Chris Morris was the most impressive of Rajasthan’s bowlers. In 11 matches, he claimed 13 scalps at a strike rate of 19.3, and an economy rate of 7.4 with a best of 4 for 23.
James Faulkner was the biggest disappointment for Rajasthan, failing with both bat and ball, something which the franchise is not used to. He managed only 8 wickets with the ball averaging well over 50 with an economy rate touching 9.5. With the willow, he scored only 144 runs at an average of 18. Steven Smith managed nearly 300 runs, but batting top of the order, a lot more was expected of him. He averaged 26 at a strike rate of 132. Sanju Samson also failed managing only 204 runs at an average of 20. Pravin Tambe and Tim Southee began well, but ended with disappointing numbers, claiming 7 and 6 wickets at an average of 38 and 41 respectively.
--By A Cricket Analyst