Desperate to exorcise the ghosts of the spot-fixing scandal once and for all, Rajasthan Royals will look to start afresh as they face the daunting prospect of running into IPL-6 winners Mumbai Indians in the inaugural group stage match of the Champions League T20 on Saturday.
The fact that the tournament will be the last one for veteran Sachin Tendulkar, who will be pitted against another great and contemporary Rahul Dravid at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium, makes the contest even more special.
The spot-fixing scandal, which broke out during the IPL-6 earlier this year, saw the BCCI imposing life bans on Test pacer S Sreesanth and spinner Ankeet Chavan, and one-year suspension on Sidharth Trivedi, while another player Ajit Chandila's fate is yet to be decided.
The unsavoury episode has cast a dark shadow over the Indian Premier League, and has dented the Royals' image badly. It would now be a herculean task for both skipper Dravid and coach Paddy Upton to keep the morale of the team high.
The hosts, however, can take confidence from the fact that they would be starting their campaign in their own den, where they had won all their eight matches during the sixth edition of the IPL.
Rajasthan were one of the only two teams this year in IPL to remain unbeaten at home and despite the lack of big names in their ranks, apart from Shane Watson and Dravid, players such as Brad Hodge, Stuart Binny, James Faulkner, Kevon Cooper and Ajinkya Rahane enabled the team finish third.
One of the most successful batsmen at the domestic level in recent years, Rahane, with his orthodox slogging, is the backbone of the Royals batting, while Australian all-rounder Watson and Dravid give them the solidity.
Watson top-scored for the team with 543 runs at a strike rate of 142.89, besides picking up 13 wickets in IPL-6. He is always a threat and his recent century against England in the Ashes will be a big boost to the team.
Hodge and Binny have been successful in providing the required thrust to the innings.