Champions of the Indian Premier League’s inaugural edition, Rajasthan Royals have not had the rub of the green going their way since. From being title contenders, they have seen their status drop to being a mid-table team in recent years. However, the Royals have always been known to be a great platform for young talents and the coming season will be an opportunity for them, not only to consolidate on that reputation but also to reignite their old glory through a mix of youth and experience in their ranks. Here we look to analyse how the Royals stand ahead of the 2020 IPL season –
Steve Smith, Ankit Rajpoot, Been Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler, Mahipal Lomror, Manan Vohra, Mayank Markande, Rahul Tewatia, Riyan Parag, Sanju. Samson, Shashank Singh, Shreyas Gopal, Varun Aaron, Robin Uthappa, Jaydev Unadkat, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Anuj Rawat, Akash Singh, Kartik Tyagi, David Miller, Oshane Thomas, Anirudha Joshi, Andrew Tye, Tom Curran.
RR has chosen to focus heavily on their pace battery for this season. They have roped in a host of international pacemen like Jofra Archer, Andrew Tye, Tom Curran and Oshane Thomas. They also have Jaydev Unadkat who was the highest wicket-taker in the Ranji Trophy last season and former India international Varun Aaron. Domestic talents like Ankit Rajput, Kartik Tyagi and Akash Singh complete the fast bowling arsenal.
Point to be noted is that many of these players are express quicks and a lot will depend on how well they can take the pace off the ball in the United Arab Emirates’ slow & low pitches. Andrew Tye is well known for his knuckleball, having proven himself in previous seasons of the IPL and also the Big Bash League. Archer can be used both at the start and at the death, with his yorkers being a handy weapon. Unadkat can operate both at the beginning as well as the middle overs. Curran and Thomas might well have the responsibility to start off proceedings if and when they make the playing XI.
A thing of concern for the Jaipur based team would be their spin bowling department. They are lead by former Mumbai Indians duo Shreyas Gopal and Mayank Markande and have no-one with international experience. This might well prove to be crucial to their fate in the UAE. Though Shreyas Gopal has had two very good seasons with the Royals. Another good season here may get him back in the reckoning for the national team selection.
Availability of allrounder Ben Stokes is uncertain due to family reasons and is certain to miss the 1st half of the tournament. His participation in the second half is not confirmed either.
Once again, RR will not get Stoke’ batting prowess as he is currently away at New Zealand to attend to his ailing father (who has been diagnosed with brain cancer). England opener Joss Butler would be a key man in the batting up. The English keeper has been in good touch for the national team and is a candidate both for opening and in the middle order. Kerala lad Sanju Samson will also be looking forward to proving himself as an India spot is on the offering with MS Dhoni’s retirement and Rishabh Pant’s fickle form not holding the Delhite in good stead. Captain Steven Smith will have to anchor the innings. David Miller will be in the role of a finisher who will be entrusted with the responsibility of increasing the scoring rate. RR again is a little short on their Indian arsenal in this regard.
Steven Smith will lead the team. The former Australian skipper, who lost his Aussie captaincy after the ball-tampering scandal, will be eager to reestablish his leadership abilities and lead the team to the title as fellow Aussie Shane Warne did in 2008.
Yashasvi Jaiswal/ Robin Uthappa
Author’s take – Rajasthan Royals look strong in the pace department but awfully short of proven spinners. Their batting two revolves too much on their overseas stars. We predict a mid-table finish, around 5th or 6th spot, but they can be the dark horse for a playoff spot if they get luck on their side.