Rajasthan Royals have had a strange journey in the Indian Premier League (IPL). They won the inaugural edition in 2008 when few gave them a chance, under the inspirational leadership of Shane Warne. However, as the expectations from RR rose, their fortunes started floundering.
The franchise finished in the bottom half for four consecutive years before finally reaching the play-offs in 2013. Rajasthan Royals’ troubles increased as their players were caught in the midst of the match-fixing and betting storm. The subsequent investigations led to them being suspended from the league for the 2016 and 2017 editions.
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On their return in 2018, they made it to the playoffs, finishing at the fourth position. However, last season, the old habits returned as they were placed a lowly seventh.
Rajasthan Royals haven’t had a settled bunch of players, which has added to their woes. Still, there are a few players from the current squad who should regularly make it to Dream 11 teams. Here’s our pick.
#1. Ben Stokes
This was quite an easy choice even when one considers the fact that Ben Stokes will miss the initial part of the tournament to be with his ailing father.
Starting with the World Cup at home last year, Stokes has been an altogether different player. He was incredible throughout the tournament even as England blew hot and cold. This was followed by the Headingley miracle, with the all-rounder going from strength to strength.
Even before his renaissance, Stokes was in huge demand in the IPL owing to his versatile skills. In 2017, he was purchased by Rising Pune Supergiant for a then-record price of Rs 14.5 crore. He even hit a brilliant hundred in his debut season.
Unfortunately, his last two seasons in the IPL for Rajasthan Royals have been far from impressive. Last year, he managed only 123 runs and six wickets from nine games.
However, this year, a totally different Stokes is expected to be on show. If Stokes can repeat what he did in the World Cup, the Rajasthan Royals can experience a change in fortunes for good.
#2. Jos Buttler
Like Stokes, Jos Buttler also made an impact in the World Cup, although to a lesser extent. Buttler’s monstrous hitting skills are legendary both in international cricket and in the IPL.
The 30-year-old has been in excellent form of late, with scores of 44 and 77 not out in England’s T20I triumph over the Aussies. Promoted to open, he has seized his chance incredibly well. Opening is not something alien to the dashing wicket-keeper batsman. He has done the same with excellent results for the Rajasthan Royals even as the franchise itself has struggled.
Smashing 548 runs in 13 matches at a strike-rate of over 155 in 2018, with five consecutive fifties, earned him a Test recall. Last year as well, Buttler made an impact with his bold strokeplay, contributing 311 runs in eight games. However, his performance was overshadowed by the Mankading controversy involving Ravichandran Ashwin.
#3. Jofra Archer
Extreme pace and accuracy can be lethal in any format, and England’s Jofra Archer possesses both. A lot has changed for the Barbadian-born English cricketer since he last featured for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL.
Archer was part of England’s victorious World Cup campaign. In fact, he was one of the chief architects, bowling the Super Over that gave England their maiden title triumph.
Archer has the ability to deliver thunderbolts in excess of 150 kph, and his searing yorkers have troubled the best of batsmen in international cricket. Ruled out of the tournament when it was initially scheduled to be held in the first half of the year, Royals will feel lucky to have his services in the UAE.
Bowlers are usually not in high demand in the T20 format. However, Archer stands out as he has the ability to make a Malinga or Bumrah-like difference.Published 13 Sep 2020, 21:42 IST