IPL 2020 is nearing its midway mark and the season is turning out to be highly competitive. While there is little separating most teams, Rajasthan Royals (RR) seem to be in an unenviable spot.
The men in pink have just two wins from six games and will be hoping to get their campaign back on track against the Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday.
There are some major worrying factors for RR. The inaugural champions will need to win at least six of their remaining eight games to ensure a playoff spot and a chance to win their second title.
The impending availability of Ben Stokes will be a massive boost to the franchise, but Steve Smith's men will hope that they won't leave too much to do at the back end of the season.
RR, who began their campaign with two victories, will need to address the following issues going forward if they are to succeed in the tournament:
1) Lack of a batting mainstay
The Rajasthan Royals have a formidable top order with the likes of Jos Buttler, Steve Smith, and Sanju Samson. The trio has shown glimpses of their class but has had largely underwhelming seasons so far.
To put this into perspective, none of the RR batsmen feature in the Orange Cap's top 15 run-scorers. RR's top scorers are Sanju Samson (176 runs) at 16th place and Steve Smith (157 runs) at 21st.
This disappointing stat is further amplified when we realize that 90.3% (159 runs) of Sanju Samson and 75.7% (119 runs) of Steve Smith's runs came in the first two games.
Rajasthan Royals will need to figure out a way for multiple batters to make significant contributions moving forward if they wish to revitalize their IPL campaign.
2) Batting collapses and dismal NRR
Rajasthan Royals currently have the weakest NRR at -1.073. This is largely due to the fact that their tail-enders end up at the crease every single game.
Here is an uninspiring stat from RR's 6 games:
- Wickets taken: 28 (4.67 wickets per match)
- Wickets lost: 48 (8 wickets per game)
This has meant that while their opposition's specialist batters are majorly scoring against them, RR has more often than not been forced to rely on their tail-enders. Losses by 57 runs and 46 runs in their last two games were a result of Rajasthan Royals being bowled out within their stipulated 20 overs.
With a league as closely contested as IPL 2020, NRR will play a role later on and it is high-time Rajasthan Royals pull their socks up.
Check the latest IPL prediction here.
3) No more Sharjah this IPL
A running theme throughout this article is how RR has looked like a different team after their first two IPL games. Both of those games were at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
Despite their last match against the Delhi Capitals at Sharjah being forgettable, it is undeniable as to which ground Rajasthan Royals have preferred playing in this tournament.
While Sharjah is a batting paradise compared to its sister venues, other teams have learned to adapt. Opposition sides have scored freely against them outside Sharjah while RR has floundered at every turn.
With their quota of three IPL matches at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium over, Rajasthan Royals will need to study their performances at the other grounds and examine the factors contributing to their lackluster performances.
Team mentor Shane Warne and Head Coach Andrew McDonald will be aware of these stats and the challenge that awaits them.
Rajasthan Royals have the youngest average age among the eight franchises this season and they will be hoping the youngsters step up and turn the IPL season around for the team.