IPL 2020: Strongest probable playing XI for Rajasthan Royals
- Royals will have to depend on their established foreign players to deliver the goods
- The likely absence of Jofra Archer has severely dented their bowling resources
Rajasthan Royals have been the perennial underdogs right from the first season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and have always seemingly punched above their weight. Having failed to win the IPL title since their phenomenal victory in the inaugural season of the premier competition, they would want to bag their second IPL title in the 2020 Indian Premier League.
Post their title win in the 2008 IPL, the Royals had their best finish in the 2013 IPL when they managed to bag the third position. After serving their two-year ban in 2016-17, they managed to reach the playoffs in 2018 and eventually finished fourth but had a rather disappointing IPL 2019 as they finished a lowly seventh on the table.
Having traded Ajinkya Rahane, one of their batting mainstays, to the Delhi Capitals before the IPL Auctions, they were planning to go in with a fresh approach but their team seems to have an over-reliance on their overseas players.
Rajasthan Royals Squad for IPL 2020: Steve Smith (C), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Robin Uthappa, Manan Vohra, Sanju Samson, Mahipal Lomror, Riyan Parag, Jos Buttler, David Miller, Ben Stokes, Shashank Singh, Anuj Rawat, Ankit Rajpoot, Varun Aaron, Jaydev Unadkat, Kartik Tyagi, Akash Singh, Oshane Thomas, Andrew Tye, Jofra Archer, Tom Curran, Mayank Markande, Shreyas Gopal, Rahul Tewatia, Anirudha Joshi
Although their batting seems to have most bases covered, it is their bowling that might prove to be the weak link, especially with Jofra Archer unlikely to be available for the whole season.
Keeping the above squad in mind, let us have a look at the best probable playing XI that can be fielded by the Royals.
#1 Openers (Yashasvi Jaiswal, Jos Buttler)
The Royals don't have too many opening options and would probably have to go with the young Yashasvi Jaiswal partnering the explosive Jos Buttler at the top of the order. Buttler would have to shoulder the responsibility of not only providing the team with a flying start, but also mix caution with aggression and play some big innings for RR if they are to have any chance of making it through to the playoffs. He would have the added responsibility of mentoring the young Jaiswal to build a strong partnership.
Also see – MI team
Jaiswal would be hoping to replicate his excellent form from the Under-19 World Cup 2020 where he was the mainstay of the Indian batting line-up. If Jaiswal fails to deliver in the first few matches, the RR team might only have Manan Vohra as the backup opening option unless they look at having Sanju Samson or Robin Uthappa open the batting.
#2 Middle-Order (Sanju Samson, Steve Smith, Robin Uthappa)
Sanju Samson has been the star performer for the Royals over the years and he would like to continue in the same vein. Having failed to make the best use of his chances at the international level, he would want to have an outstanding IPL to throw his name in the hat for a spot in the Indian line-up for the T20 World Cup later in the year.
The Royals would be relying on their captain Steve Smith to lead them ably not only on the field but with the bat as well. Smith would have to be the backbone around which the Royals batting would revolve. He would be expected to provide stability to the batting line-up and also provide the required acceleration towards the end of the innings.
With limited middle-order batting options at their disposal, the RR team would be hoping that the experienced Robin Uthappa can regain his old form and deliver the goods for the team. Uthappa would like to make amends for the poor IPL he had last year which resulted in him being offloaded by the Kolkata Knight Riders.
#3 All-rounders (Ben Stokes, Riyan Parag, Tom Curran)
Ben Stokes would be looking to replicate the form he showed for England last year, especially in the 2019 ICC World Cup. Having failed to deliver the goods for RR last year, Stokes will be hoping to set the record straight and perform to his potential this time around. His performance as an all-rounder might prove to be the decisive factor in determining RR's progress in the tournament.
Young Riyan Parag was the surprise element in the RR squad last year and had showcased his talent both with the bat and the ball. He would hope to continue in the same vein and establish himself as a future star for Indian cricket.
With Jofra Archer likely to miss the IPL due to an elbow injury, Tom Curran would have to fill the big boots of his compatriot. Having showcased his potential in T20 leagues across the world, this IPL might provide him with the perfect opportunity to seal his place in the England T20 squad. He can prove to be a vital component of the RR squad with his effective death bowling and explosive batting down the order.
#4 Bowlers (Shreyas Gopal, Jaydev Unadkat, Ankit Rajpoot)
The Royals' bowling might prove to be their Achilles heel with limited quality options available at their disposal. Shreyas Gopal, who had a pretty successful IPL last year, has not been in impressive form in the domestic circuit and was even dropped from the Karnataka Ranji team. He will be hoping to deliver the goods in this year's IPL as well, else RR might have to look at Mayank Markande or Rahul Tewatia as the other leg-spin options.
Jaydev Unadkat has been on a high after captaining Saurashtra to the Ranji Trophy title and becoming the highest wicket-taking pacer in a Ranji Trophy season. Having failed to deliver for RR in the last two seasons of the IPL, he would like to make amends and prove his worth to the franchise. A good performance here coupled with his outstanding form in the Ranji Trophy might also bring him back in the reckoning for a spot in the national team.
Ankit Rajpoot has had a decent Ranji Trophy season and can be an asset for the Royals, especially with his ability to swing the new ball. The Rajasthan team might have to look at the option of playing the young India Under-19 star Kartik Tyagi, or the sometimes erratic Varun Aaron if Rajpoot is not able to deliver the goods.Published 19 Mar 2020, 11:44 IST