IPL 2020 has come and gone for the Rajasthan Royals, who saw themselves splutter after making a promising start to the season. The ended IPL 2020 at the bottom of the table with 6 wins in 14 matches - barely an improvement from winning 5 matches out of 14 in 2019.
Their problems this season were plentiful and the Rajasthan Royals didn't have a clear idea about their best batting lineup. Their bowling was heavily dependent on Jofra Archer, and they were reluctant the likes of Yashasvi Jaiswal, David Miller, Andrew Tye, and Mahipal Lomror this season.
It is unclear at this point whether there will be a massive auction next year or a smaller one, given that the next season will be played in March-April in 2021 (contingent on the COVID-19 situation improving). Whichever one happens, here are some issues the Rajasthan Royals should address before the next season of the IPL.
A clearly established batting order
The Rajasthan Royals did not have a clearly defined opening pair or top order for the entire season. The team were constantly chopping and changing the starting XI depending on conditions and trying to minimize their weaknesses. Ben Stokes was promoted to opening the innings due to his below-average scoring rate against spinners in the middle overs.
Inconsistent performances did not make identifying the Rajasthan Royals' lineup easier. Sanju Samson started explosively with two half-centuries in his first two matches, only to end up with one more half-century from the remaining 12 matches that he played in.
Steven Smith started as an opener in all-out attack mode but was shifted back to the middle order to act as an anchor. However, he could only manage 311 runs at a strike rate of 131.22.
A batting order which consists of Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Sanju Samson, Steven Smith, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Rahul Tewatia, and Riyan Parag is a decent line-up. But their roles n the Rajasthan Royals squad must be clearly defined.
Some bowling support for Jofra Archer
Jofra Archer had an outstanding season for the Rajasthan Royals by any measure. He took 20 wickets (no other Rajasthan Royals bowler managed more than 10), conceded 6.55 runs per over, struck every 16.7 deliveries, and for good measure, scored 113 runs at a strike rate of 179.36.
His stellar efforts were diminished by a lack of support from his fellow bowlers. The inconsistency and lack of a clearly defined batting lineup bled into the Rajasthan Royals' bowling department. Experienced names such as Jaydev Unadkat and Aniket Rajpoot failed to get wickets regularly or keep a check on the run-scoring.
Unadkat had an economy rate of 9.91 in 7 matches and 4 wickets, and Rajpoot was even worse with 2 wickets in 6 matches and an economy rate of 11.70.
With Archer bowling in the powerplay and death overs and Rahul Tewatia and Shreyas Gopal bowling in the middle overs, the Rajasthan Royals must identify specialist death bowlers.
Unadkat, Rajpoot, Stokes, and Tom Curran were tried this season, but none of them could keep the run-scoring in check and ended up nullifying any advantage that Archer provided the Rajasthan Royals.
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Consistency in selection
Steven Smith, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, and Jofra Archer were the 4 first-choice overseas players in the Rajasthan Royals' XI and were the players around whom the team would be built.
However, their presence and effectiveness were hampered by inconsistencies in team selection throughout the entire season. This was a reflection of the management's inability to identify a decent starting XI and give players a sustained run of games.
In Rajasthan's search for a playing XI that was built around their overseas players, the likes of Yashasvi Jaiswal (3 matches), David Miller (1 match), Mahipal Lomror (3 matches) and Andrew Tye (1 match) barely got any chances to establish themselves in the team.
Meanwhile, the likes of Robin Uthappa (12 matches, 196 runs, a strike rate of 119.51) and Jaydev Unadkat (7 matches, 4 wickets) kept getting chances despite their performances not warranting being picked regularly.
Identifying a core group of Indian players and then identifying a group of overseas players to support that core group is how teams should be built in the IPL. Rajasthan's dependence on their overseas players to cover for the inconsistencies of their Indian players proved to be a costly mistake in IPL 2020.
The Rajasthan Royals has a good group of Indian players in Samson, Tewatia, Gopal and Parag, who are complemented by Jaiswal and Lomror. Building a team around these players and the overseas quartet of Archer, Buttler, Smith, and Stokes is the way to go forward for them in future seasons.Published 03 Nov 2020, 21:59 IST