The Rajasthan Royals (RR) have developed a reputation over the years for picking lesser-known Indian talent and providing them with a platform to flourish. The Royals won the inaugural edition of the IPL on the back of this very philosophy, with critics going on to dub them a 'Moneyball' franchise.
Having said that, RR have fallen short of replicating the success they enjoyed during the 2008 season, failing to lift the title or even make a final appearance in 11 attempts since. They finished seventh in IPL 2021 with just five wins in 14 league games.
One of the major reasons for RR's lackadaisical showings over the last few seasons has been the absence of a reliable Indian core. While there has been talent aplenty in their ranks, it hasn't really been supplemented with the requisite experience that the side would have liked.
With a fresh season on the cards and a mega auction to precede it, the Royals will be focused on correcting some of their wrongs to put together a squad capable of lifting the title. To that end, how they go about their retention policy prior to that will dictate terms to a great extent though.
Here, we take a look at three Indian players whom the Rajasthan Royals will have their eyes on retaining ahead of IPL 2022.
#1 Sanju Samson
After the Royals decided to part ways with Steve Smith, wicketkeeper-batter Sanju Samson was handed the reins of the side ahead of the 2021 season. The shift in strategy was a clear sign that the RR think-tank was keen on an Indian player to take the side forward.
For a player whose consistency has always come under heavy scrutiny, Samson started the 2021 season in typically blazing fashion, almost pulling off a heist against the Punjab Kings (PBKS) with a breathtaking 119. With 484 runs across the entire IPL 2021 campaign, Samson enjoyed his most fruitful season with the bat. A healthy strike rate of 136.72 points towards increased returns with the extra responsibility of captaincy on his shoulders.
His composure and confidence irrespective of the situation of the game or the end result were standout features of Samson's first stint as RR captain. Mind you, Samson had to make do without a lot of his first-choice resources such as Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler (for the second leg) unavailable. He still did an admirable job of managing his troops well.
Keeping this in mind, it wouldn't be a surprise if RR were to entrust him with the reins of captaincy once again and retain him ahead of the mega auction, despite the team's seventh place finish in 2021.
#2 Kartik Tyagi
Kartik Tyagi broke out as a sensation post the ICC Under-19 World Cup 2020 in South Africa, leading the Indian attack with aplomb. What followed was a promising debut IPL season in the UAE in 2020 and a journey with the Indian national team as a net bowler during their Australian sojourn.
Injuries have plagued the lanky speedster from Uttar Pradesh but when he got his opportunity in RR's first game of the second leg against Punjab Kings, he did the unthinkable. With all but four runs in the bank, Tyagi came on to bowl the final over of the game. What followed was truly a spectacular sight as a barrage of pinpoint yorkers saw Tyagi successfully defend those mere four runs in a stunning jailbreak for the Royals.
Tyagi's tryst with injuries meant he was in and out of the side thereafter and will continue to remain on the sidelines during the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy set to begin this week. However, given his skillset of being able to bowl at any stage of the innings, as well as the raw pace that he possesses, RR should be looking at holding onto his services.
Another point worth noting is that Tyagi is yet to be capped at the international level, meaning that the deduction in funds that would come with his retention would be significantly less than that of a capped player. All signs point to the fact that Tyagi could turn out in the pink and blue of RR again in 2022.
#3 Yashasvi Jaiswal
Aggression, fearlessness and panache - Yashasvi Jaiswal is the true embodiment of a modern-day T20 player. The Mumbai opener ended the 2020 ICC U19 World Cup as the Player of the Tournament, carrying the Indian batting lineup on his shoulders in their run to the final.
While opportunities were hard to come by in the 2020 IPL season, Jaiswal was given a go in 2021 owing to a lack of requisite returns from Manan Vohra at the top of the order. Once the opportunity came his way, Jaiswal brought out a lot of positive intent that was reflected in quickfire starts in the powerplays.
The second leg of the 2021 season saw Jaiswal take it up by a further few notches, the best account of which came in RR's must-win clash against the Chennai Super Kings in Abu Dhabi. Chasing 190, Jaiswal latched onto the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) bowlers like a cheap suit and raced to a 19-ball half-century to shut the door on the opposition for good.
A strike rate of 148.21 reflects a belligerent campaign for the left-hander, whose panache and intent are also seen in his electrifying fielding skills. And with his career barely taking off now, the sky is the limit for Yashasvi Jaiswal and the future could see him turn a lot more heads going forward.
Like Tyagi, Jaiswal too is yet to be capped at international level. Keeping this in mind, as well as his ability to form part of the team's core for several years to come, don't be surprised if RR go the wise route of retaining his services prior to the mega auction.