Since its inception in 2008, the Indian Premier League has given cricket lovers all over the world many fond memories. The way it unites the supporters and the players from different parts of the world was unimaginable before the festival of cricket called IPL began.

Across the seasons we, the Rajasthan Royals fans have stood by our team in victory and defeat. It is perhaps for this reason, we all look forward to April every year because, besides the temperature rise, we all experience a surge in our excitement levels too. So let us take a look at some of the most cherished moments for all the Royals fans across different seasons.

In this edition of throwback Thursday, we will take a trip down memory lane and relive some of the best batting performances of our Royals during the inaugural edition of the IPL.

3. Shane Watson 76 (49) against Kings XI Punjab at Jaipur

All of the Royals fans have fond memories of the first edition of the Indian Premier League. However, many of us tend to forget that we did not get off to the best of starts in the tournament, as the Delhi Daredevils had beaten us comfortably in our very first encounter in the IPL. The story though was about to change dramatically in our first ever home match at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium against the flamboyant Kings XI Punjab team, led by Yuvraj Singh.

The Kings XI side won the toss and elected to bat and put up a formidable score of 168, on the back of a fine half-century by Yuvraj Singh. In reply, the Royals were stuttering at 19/2 after 2.3 overs when Shane Watson joined Kamran Akmal at the crease. Things went from bad to worse when Akmal too departed soon. This is when Shane Watson stepped up and took charge with an unbeaten innings of 76 off just 49 balls. He batted with caution at the beginning but was quick to pounce on anything loose. Once he had his eye in he started an onslaught that none of the Punjab bowlers were expecting. One of his shots were so powerful that it split the bat into two and yet the ball managed to reach the boundary. This image and his sublime innings will forever be etched in the memories of the RR fans as it gave the Royals fans the first opportunity to say Halla Bol in their first home game.

2. Shane Warne 22* (9) Against Deccan Chargers at Hyderabad

It is not difficult to expect a T20 match featuring the likes of Adam Gilchrist, Andrew Symonds, Shahid Afridi, Graeme Smith and Yusuf Pathan with over 400 runs being scored. However, what is a surprise though is that among all these, it was a certain Shane Keith Warne who stole the limelight and the match with the bat and that too in just 9 balls.

It was all going perfectly well for Warne’s countryman Andrew Symonds who had smashed a century in the first innings to help post a mammoth 214 on the board. The Royals were kept in the chase by a 28 ball 61 from Pathan and Graeme Smith’s 71 off 45 balls. At the end, 17 was required off the last over with Warne at the non-striker’s end and Pankaj Singh facing up to Andrew Symonds. Things were looking bleak as Pankaj Singh only managed three of the first two balls. Once Warne got the strike in the third ball of the over, he immediately hit a boundary over Symonds’s head. The equation was still a tough one but captain courageous Shane Warne made it look easy as he deposited two back to back sixes to win the tie with a ball to spare.

1. Yusuf Pathan 56 (39) Against Chennai Super Kings at Mumbai

Some of the biggest cricketing stars might have graced the IPL 2008 stage, but when it ended at the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai, everyone had only one man’s name in their lips, and that was Yusuf Pathan. Pathan had consistently won Rajasthan Royals many matches throughout the tournament, but he saved his best for the last. Chasing a tricky score of 164 on a two-paced wicket, the pressure of the grand finale seemed too much for the Royals players to handle as they were reeling at 42/3. However, Watson and Pathan put the Royals back in the match with a 65 run partnership with the latter scoring a scintillating 56 off 39 balls. He took a special liking to Balaji and Muralitharan as he tonked them for sizes. If not for a superb throw from Suresh Raina, he would have run away with the match. Nonetheless, he set up a nail-biting finish that made us the first ever Indian Premier League winners.

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