‘Our two-year suspension has become a five-year punishment’

Rajasthan Royals co-owner Manoj Badale feels that with the franchise not being able to retain three of its players from the batch of 2015, its suspension has turned into a ‘five-year punishment’.

Manoj Badale...“Our strategy has simply been to focus on building a side with balance.”   -  Getty Images

Ever since the Indian Premier League (IPL) governing council decided to allow the franchises to retain three players and pick other two using the Right to Match Card (RTM), Rajasthan Royals has made it clear that the policy may not suit the franchise well.

And on the eve of the IPL auctions - to be held in Bengaluru - Rajasthan Royals’ co-owner, Manoj Badale, feels that with the franchise not being able to retain three of its players from the batch of 2015, the two-year suspension has turned into a ‘five-year punishment’.

In an exclusive chat with Sportstar on Friday evening, Badale said: “We have the equal biggest purse, but that is simply because it was impossible to retain three of our players from 2015. So in effect, our two-year suspension has become a five-year punishment.”

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At a time when most of the franchises are looking to get their star cricketers using the RTM, Royals’ focus is to build a balanced side. “Our strategy has simply been to focus on building a side with balance, hoping that all of the star players are not captured by the multiple ‘right to match’ cards in the room,” Badale said.

Smith to lead

After Royals’ suspension in 2015, some of its star recruits — Australia skipper Steven Smith, Shane Watson, James Faulker and Ajinkya Rahane — played for different franchises in the last couple of seasons. And returning to the fold this year, Royals has only retained Smith, who is set to lead the side. “Currently that is the plan (to make Smith the skipper), but you always need options,” Badale said.

But then, why did the franchise decide to retain only Smith?

“We retained only one, but then, effectively we could have only retained four players!” the co-owner said, indicating that the prevalence of RTM may not allow the franchise get 35 top players. “We have plenty of options (in the auction), but the prevalence of ‘right to match cards’ mean that 35 of the best players are effectively unavailable to us,” he said.

Jaipur set to be the home ground

While it would be a challenging task for the Royals bosses to get the best players from the auction, the franchise is all set to return to its old home base at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. “It would be fantastic to return to our home ground (in Jaipur), and give the fans of Rajasthan some cricket to watch,” Badale said.

Royals last played at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in 2013 after which it had to shift base to Ahmedabad (and later to Pune) due to the suspension on the Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA).

Now, with the BCCI lifting the suspension on the RCA, Royals would be hoping to return home with a bang. Of course, with some of the star cricketers on board!