IPL 2020: Rajasthan Royals | Key players, strengths, weaknesses, and probable XI
- How will the perennial dark horses Royals fare in the thirteenth season of IPL
Rajasthan Royals (RR), the winners of the inaugural edition, have always started the tournament as underdogs or dark horses and it is no different this time. The Royals did falter a bit in 2019 as most of their overseas players left early due to the World Cup. However, they will expect all their first choice players to be fit and available this time around. The auctions saw them get back-ups for their first choice foreign players and also some Indian under-19 stars. Buying the experienced Robin Uthappa was a big highlight for the Royals, which might turn out to be a masterstroke.
Rajasthan Royals Squad
Steve Smith (c), Jos Buttler, Jaydev Unadkat, Manan Vohra, Riyan Parag, Robin Uthappa, David Miller, Ankit Rajpoot, Mayank Markande, Oshane Thomas, Mahipal Lomror, Jofra Archer, Shreyas Gopal, Varun Aaron, Kartik Tyagi, Akash Singh, Andrew Tye, Ben Stokes, Rahul Tewatia, Shashank Singh, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Anirudha Joshi, Tom Curran, Sanju Samson, Anuj Rawat
The biggest worry for the Royals for the last couple of seasons was the lack of alternatives for their first choice overseas players. Despite having some of the best in the business in their side, RR failed to win games once the overseas players became unavailable. They simply did not have the resources to fill in their shoes. However, with some smart tactics in the auctions, this time, they have finally managed to get the right back-ups.
With Buttler at the top, Steve Smith and Ben Stokes in the middle order, RR have a very strong batting line-up. Moreover, they have got the experience of Robin Uthappa, who can be slotted in at number three or even sent to open with Sanju Samson coming in at three. The top five have a lot of experience among them and that holds the team in good stead. Also, they can use the likes of Yashasvi Jaiswal as a surprise package.
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RR have added two wrist spinners in the form of Mayank Markande and Rahul Tewatia, and as a result have now formed a side that can challenge teams playing on slow and low wickets too. By trading Dhawal Kulkarni and getting in Ankit Rajpoot, they now have a pace attack which is suitable for their home pitch.
Despite having a formidable top five, RR lack options who can be relied upon to finish games. Not having a designated number six and seven might prove to be costly in crunch games. Riyan Parag impressed with his composure last season and will most likely be slotted in at six. But the lack of experience is a cause of concern. Most of the back-up batsmen are top order batsmen. Tom Curran might have to bat at seven as adding any other batsman at the top of the order will mean some of the main batsmen will be batting one position below their original slots. Curran at seven though will only make the tail long.
The pace department, especially the Indian contingent lacks experience. Ankit Rajpoot seems to be the first choice pacer. Varun Aaron has never been a consistent T20 bowler, while Unadkat has been guilty of leaking too many runs and all the others are relatively new at this level.
Players to watch out for
Ben Stokes – One of the hottest properties in international cricket at the moment, Stokes is undoubtedly the most valuable player for any team he plays for. Having been the player of the tournament in 2017, Stokes has since underperformed for Rajasthan Royals. However, unlike the last two seasons, Stokes is in the form of his life, having developed into a big match player and someone whom the team can rely on in pressure situations. With not much experience in the pace department, Stokes might be handed over the responsibility of bowling the crucial death overs as well.
Jos Buttler – Single-handedly changing the fortunes of the side once he was sent to open the innings in 2018 and helping RR qualify for the playoffs, Jos Buttler will once again be the linchpin. The swashbuckling opener makes most of the powerplays and gets off his team to a flier more often than not. Buttler’s blitzkrieg start gives his side the platform to capitalize at the end. Moreover, Buttler has shown the tendency to bat long and when he has managed to do that, there is no stopping his team from winning. The glovesman’s form will decide to a large extent where Royals finish at the end of the season.
Shreyas Gopal – It is not often you see a bowler dismissing Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers in the same over. Shreyas Gopal has done it twice in two seasons. The wrist spinner from Karnataka played a key role in his side’s progress to the playoffs in 2018 as he was regularly amongst the wickets. After a not so impressive season last year, Gopal will be hoping to get back his wicket-taking form. On pitches which are on the slower side, Gopal will be RR’s best bet with the ball. Being the most experienced spinner in the side and a more than handy lower order batsman, Shreyas Gopal will be a vital cog in the wheel.
Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson, Robin Uthappa, Steven Smith, Ben Stokes, Riyan Parag, Tom Curran, Shreyas Gopal, Mayank Markande, Jaydev Unadkat, Ankit Rajpoot.
Rajasthan Royals are a team who depend heavily on their overseas players. Unlike the previous editions, all their overseas stars are likely to be available throughout the season this year which holds them in good stead. A playoff qualification is very likely if the team performs up to its potential.
Published 12 Mar 2020, 22:36 IST