The Rajasthan Royals (RR) come into the 14th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) with a new man in charge of the side, but their strong overseas core remains the same.
Sanju Samson will take over from Steve Smith as RR captain, while Chris Morris was signed for a record-breaking INR 16.25 crores in the 2021 IPL auction. The Proteas quick was acquired to support Jofra Archer, but the Englishman will miss a portion of this year's tournament.
Nevertheless, RR have a strong roster comprising of several domestic and international superstars.
RR's squad for IPL 2021: Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler, Mahipal Lomror, Manan Vohra, Mayank Markande, Rahul Tewatia, Riyan Parag, Shreyas Gopal, Jaydev Unadkat, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Anuj Rawat, Kartik Tyagi, David Miller, Andrew Tye, Chris Morris, Shivam Dube, Mustafizur Rahman, Chetan Sakariya, K C Cariappa, Liam Livingstone, Kuldip Yadav and Akash Singh
In this article, we predict the four overseas players in RR's XI for IPL 2021.
Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Chris Morris guaranteed to be part of RR's playing XI in IPL 2021
Had Jofra Archer been available for the first part of IPL 2021, there would be absolutely no doubt about the 4 overseas slots in the RR playing XI. But in the absence of Archer, only three positions are filled beyond doubt - Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Chris Morris.
Stokes missed a part of last year's tournament and struggled to get into his groove once he returned, but eventually found some touch while batting at the top of the order. RR Director of Cricket Kumar Sangakkara stated that Stokes won't bowl much in IPL 2021 to prevent burnout, but he might have to roll his arm over more than expected due to Archer's absence.
Buttler's batting position is yet to be determined, but RR would do well to use him at the top of the order. The wicket-keeper is one of the most dangerous T20 openers in the world, and there's no need to push Stokes up the order when you have a player of the calibre of Buttler.
The most expensive player in the history of the IPL auction, Chris Morris has returned to his former franchise and will lead the pace attack this year.
Andrew Tye, Mustafizur Rahman the candidates for the remaining slot
Liam Livingstone and David Miller have outside chances of featuring the RR playing XI for IPL 2021. Both batsmen have been in good form for their countries as well as in domestic T20 tournaments - the Big Bash League and the CSA T20 Challenge.
But with Stokes' bowling availability uncertain and Shivam Dube unlikely to give more than a couple of overs, RR need an overseas pacer to support Kartik Tyagi and Morris. Jaydev Unadkat is far from a reliable option, and the team's only two choices are Andrew Tye and Mustafizur Rahman.
Tye has been a wicket-taker in any competition he has played in, and even won the Purple Cap in 2018 with the Punjab Kings. He will have competition from Mustafizur, who recently received approval from the Bangladesh Cricket Board to take part in IPL 2021.
Mustafizur is a left-armer and Emerging Player of the Year award winner, and should get the nod over Tye due to the variety he brings to the RR bowling attack. He played a few promising games for his country this year, while Tye's only involvement in top-level cricket has been in the Big Bash.
VERDICT: Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Chris Morris, Mustafizur Rahman