Sanju Samson's appointment as Rajasthan Royals (RR) skipper was the highlight among a slew of strategic changes for the winners of the inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL) season. The franchise boldly let go of their skipper and one of the world's best players, Steve Smith, in search of some T20 specialists.
Though they did spend a bombshell acquiring a player who has been effective for them in the past - Chris Morris - the franchise still appears to not have fully plugged the holes due to the squad members released or traded out. Though Samson has been with RR for a while, his own form, which deserted him for most games last season, could be a concern.
Here are three reasons why RR will not win IPL 2021.
#3 Jofra Archer's injury scare
Jofra Archer made news by being last season's Most Valuable Player in IPL despite RR finishing 8th on the table. His fiery powerplay bowling and lethal variations at the death, combined with his pinch-hitting ability, always gave RR the advantage. However, it was squandered by a misfiring middle order and a very expensive Indian pace battery.
The revelation that Archer had a finger injury, which was possibly aggravated as he played through it, has made RR sweat. Although Chris Morris has the same all-round skillset, he may not have the same impact as the English star. Morris often has injury and form issues that have affected his international career as well.
Archer's absence hurts RR in a big way, as their other international bowlers have not been effective.
#2 Lack of variety in RR's spin attack
Wrist-spinners continue to dominate world cricket in the shortest format, and RR have a plethora of them. The absurdity is the lack of controlling finger-spinners or left-arm spinners who can provide a change of angle to the batsmen. Last season RR fielded Rahul Tewatia, Riyan Parag and Shreyas Gopal in the XI, and that trend is likely to continue.
While Tewatia and Gopal were economical, they need variety on pitches that are conducive to spin or for oppositions that have a lot of left-handers. KC Cariappa could turn out to be a good buy with his mystery spin, although he has a poor IPL record to date. The lack of experience in this department could hurt RR when Gopal and Tewatia go for runs.
#1 Pace attack
With the exception of the superb Jofra Archer and the quick Morris, RR have a very expensive pace-bowling unit. Though they released Varun Aaron, they still have perennial letdown Jaydev Unadkat - who single-handedly lost them a game they were in control of last season - and Kartik Tyagi, who was wicket-taking yet quite expensive.
RR have a few backups in this regard - young Akash Singh and Chetan Sakariya - apart from the once-menacing Mustafizur Rahman. While Mustafizur is unlikely to find an overseas slot for himself, the younger lot are likely to face the heat if one of Unadkat or Tyagi fail. A lot of RR's season depends on how this department handles itself in that instance.