The Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Mumbai Indians will once again start the 2019 IPL season as the favorites to win the championship. Both franchises have won 3 IPL tournaments, keeping in mind that CSK was suspended for two years.
Rohit Sharma will lead the Mumbai Indians and MS Dhoni will once again look to thrill his set to Chennai fans by winning another IPL. However, this time around the Rajasthan Royals have a great chance of staking their claims to their second IPL championship.
Steven Smith Return Strengthens Royals
The Royals were greatly weakened by the absence of their then captain Steven Smith who was suspended for a year due to his role in the ball tampering scandal involving Australia and South Africa. The Royals benched Smith for 12 months but they are happy to have him back as his ban is set to expire at the end of March.
Smith will not lead the Royals but is expected to play their first game which is against the Kings XI Punjab on 25 March. The Royals will be opening their campaign at home and the Sawai Mansingh ground has proven to be a great fortress for the Royals.
Smith was very happy to be back in India and training with the Royals as his 12 month absence from the game was very difficult for the former Australian captain. Smith said his Royal teammates were training hard and he is eagerly looking forward to playing the first match of their IPL campaign.
English Players Will Play A Major Role
The success of the Rajasthan Royals will depend heavily on the performance of their overseas players from England. Ben Stokes, Jos Butler and Jofra Archer who is expected to represent England soon are going to be key players for the Royals. Liam Livingstone is also in the squad but it could be difficult for him to get a game as Australia’s Ashton Turner is also in the team and he has shown in the recent ODI series how destructive he can be.
One of the reasons why the Royals are in a better position than some of the other IPL franchises is because they have a number of experienced domestic players. The squad will be led by Ajinkya Rahane who will try his best to book a place in the ODI World Cup squad with his performances. Stuart Binny, Varun Aaron, Jaydev Unadkat and Sanju Samson are the other experienced domestic players in the squad.