Rajasthan Royals, the inaugural champions of the IPL, had a pretty dismal season last year. After an impressive start to the tournament where they were steamrolling past every opponent and winning by a pretty big margin, they ended up with the wooden spoon. They lost steam in the second half and crashed towards the end of the tournament as they only managed to win 6 out of the 14 games, just missing out on a playoff berth.
However, with a revamped squad this time around, the Rajasthan Royals (RR) will be hoping to make amends and win their second championship. They have made some big money buys, with Chris Morris making the headlines for the highest price ever fetched in a player auction. They also shelled out some big bucks for Shivam Dube and Liam Livingstone.
RR will be heading into this edition of the IPL with a lot of hope and enthusiasm. Led by a young face in Sanju Samson, they will be hoping for a much better finish than what they expected, or at least achieved, last time around.
Squad for Rajasthan Royals in 2021:
Sanju Samson (c & wk), Jos Buttler (wk), Ben Stokes, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Manan Vohra, Anuj Rawat, Riyan Parag, David Miller, Rahul Tewatia, Mahipal Lomror, Shreyas Gopal, Mayank Markande, Jofra Archer, Andrew Tye, Jaydev Unadkat, Kartik Tyagi, Shivam Dube, Chris Morris, Mustafizur Rahman, Chetan Sakariya, KC Cariappa, Liam Livingstone, Kuldip Yadav, Akash Singh
1. A settled batting unit
Rajasthan Royals have a good and strong batting unit ahead of the IPL. If one were to rank the teams in order of their batting line-up, Rajasthan would be only behind the Mumbai Indians and the Royal Challengers Bangalore just because of the enormous batting depth those two teams possess.
They will open with Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes this season. Stokes, who was given a promotion in the pecking order last season, was the standout batting star for the Royals as he scored a century against the Mumbai Indians and a crafty fifty against the Punjab Kings at the top of the order. He was also able to give the side the much-needed blitz in the powerplay.
Moving down, Rajasthan has the likes of Sanju Samson, Shivam Dube, Riyan Parag, and David Miller in the middle order. These batsmen have the capability to turn heads on any given day and could also help the side post a big total in the first innings given their hitting prowess as finishers. They also have the likes of Chris Morris, who can tonk the long ball on his day, and Rahul Tewatia who can produce game-changing knocks to take his side home.
2. A good spin-bowling department
One of the many other things people fail to notice is that the shorter formats of the game are now being dominated by wrist spinners. RR is a team that possesses some quality leg spinners who can take wickets for them at any stage in the game.
They have the likes of Rahul Tewatia, who was only behind Jofra Archer as Rajasthan's leading wicket-taker last year. They also have the likes of Shreyas Gopal and Riyan Parag who can trouble the batsmen. Additionally, they have Mayank Markande and KC Kariappa on the bench who will provide backup to the spin department. And even Liam Livingstone can turn his arm and get the ball to talk on his day.
1. A weak bowling attack
Rajasthan Royals do not have a settled bowling unit. In 2020, they had the worst economy rate in both the powerplay and in the death. They leaked runs at a rate of 8.35 runs per over in the powerplay overs and a rate of 11.60 runs per over at the death.
They have addressed the issue this time around, with the buys of Chris Morris, who has an economy of 8.44 in the death overs, second only to Lasith Malinga, and Mustafizur Rahman. The Royals also do not have many established Indian bowlers. Jaydev Unadkat is the only prominent name in their bowling ranks and he hasn't stood up to the occasion whenever the team needed him to. With Ben Stokes and Shivam Dube unlikely to bowl this season, the team finds themselves short of options.
2. An untested bench
Rajasthan Royals also do not have sufficient backups for their Indian players. Barring Yashasvi Jaiswal, Kartik Tyagi, and Mahipal Lomror, no other player has had an impressive domestic season. RR faces a dearth of promising Indian talent and will be hoping that their latest domestic buys will help them win games if given a chance in the playing eleven.
Rajasthan Royals is synonymous with talent development. They have groomed players like Sanju Samson and Rahul Tewatia and have also given a launchpad to players who were aiming to make a comeback into the national reckoning.
Sanju Samson and Shivam Dube were two such players who have featured in the national jersey in the past year and a half. Both had pretty dismal performances and were dropped soon after their string of failures. If both players have a good IPL season, they are not far away from a national recall.
One guy to watch out for in the RR camp is Chetan Sakariya. The left-arm pacer from Saurashtra enjoyed a good run in the 2021 Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy, taking 12 wickets in 5 games. He is a product of the MRF Pace Academy and has been appreciated by the Australian fast bowling great, Glenn McGrath.
Rajasthan Royals will be missing the services of their express paceman, Jofra Archer, for the first half of the season. The pacer who was the MVP of the 2020 edition of the IPL returned to the UK and had to undergo surgery which he carried around during the England tour. They will also be missing the services of Mustafizur Rahman for their first two games as he landed in Mumbai on 1 April and will have to undergo a mandatory quarantine of 14 days.
The team also faces a possible injury scare if they don't handle Chris Morris well enough. The lanky Proteas all-rounder was injury-prone last time around and could only turn up for nine games for the Royal Challengers Bangalore. They might also face a problem if the English players decide to leave for England to play the two-Test-match series against New Zealand scheduled soon after the IPL.