The Rajasthan Royals were undefeated at home in IPL 2013 © PTI
For a team that won all its home matches in IPL 2013, it comes as a huge blow that the Rajasthan Royals (RR) do not play a single match at their fortress, the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. Devarchit Varma looks at how this could affect a side that has looked in good touch so far in IPL 7.
Rajasthan Royals (RR) are all set to play their first home match at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera, Ahmedabad on Monday, which is their new home ground in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 tournament, when they take on Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). While the change of venue should not hamper Rajasthan’s performance as they are one of the most successful sides in the IPL 7 so far, the team’s fans and supporters would certainly miss the magic that they witnessed in the past seasons of IPL at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. In their hearts, the fans and supporters of the Rajasthan Royals know that the alleged controversy between the Rajasthan Cricket Association and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has stripped them of a vital factor.
For years now, Rajasthan Royals have revelled in the excellent set up they had in the Jaipur stadium. Regardless of how they were performing in a season, the side always brought its A-game forward when playing at the Sawai Mansingh. The venue was later on termed as their fortress – something which Chennai Super Kings similarly enjoy while playing at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. In the last edition of IPL, Rajasthan Royals created history by winning all their home matches played at the venue. They indeed had a terrific run in IPL 2013, certified by the fact that they were able to keep their citadel intact.
But unfortunately, for a side that ran into trouble when three of its players were arrested on the night of May 16 on the charges of spot-fixing and betting, another big blow came just before the start of IPL 2014 when the BCCI decided to organise all four home matches at Ahmedabad.
It is not that Rajasthan have not played home matches outside the Sawai Mansingh Stadium. In fact in the 2010 edition of IPL, Rajasthan did play couple of their home games at Ahmedabad. But this time around, the situation is completely different. Rajasthan is no more a side that had legendary cricketers such as Shane Warne playing for them, instead, they have bunch of talented cricketers trying to carve their own niche under the guidance of Rahul Dravid and the experience Shane Watson. At this junction, they certainly needed a place where they could take their game to a different level.
Playing at home is always beneficial and comfortable for any side in any sport. Keeping in mind Rajasthan’s current form, and then realising that they wouldn’t be playing at their ‘home’, makes one feel that Rajasthan have certainly been robbed of the biggest factor they have had in the last couple of years.
So much has been their love for the venue and the extra zing that it provides, that the legendary Warne once publically insulted former Rajasthan Cricket Association’s (RCA) secretary Sanjay Dixit for not replying to his messages. Warne was upset as Rajasthan were not getting a favourable pitch at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium, and had suffered a crushing defeat to the all-powerful Royal Challengers Bangalore. Warne was fined USD 50,000 for his outburst, and Lalit Modi was nimble to chip in with his observation. If one looks from the game’s perspective, here was a leader, an excellent cricketing brain in Warne, fighting for what was right for his team.
This Rajasthan Royals side would certainly be missing their ‘home’ the most, but it wouldn’t be surprising if they put up yet another good show in a clash against a struggling Kolkata Knight Riders outfit.
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(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)