Will the Rajasthan Royals rumble in IPL 2018?
- Do Rajasthan have a chance to reach the knockout stages?
After being out for two years, Rajasthan Royals are back with a formidable squad, with the highlight being Ben Stokes, who is the costliest player in the IPL. The team that they have chosen at the auction has a bit of last year's Pune in it, and have the potential to reach the last 4.
Rajasthan Royals have been a team that have banked on value buys and got the best out of unknown players. The team that they picked up during the IPL auction goes against their earlier philosophy. Nonetheless, it has enormous talent which can beat any team on its day. It was unfortunate for Rajasthan Royals to lose Steven Smith due to the ball-tampering scandal. It now provides an opportunity for Ajinkya Rahane to step up and lead the team.
The team has a good blend of experience and youth which is ably guided by Paddy Upton, who is their head coach. The opening combination looks settled with Rahul Tripathi and Ajinkya Rahane. Tripathi had an incredible season last year with seven 30+ scores in eight innings, and with Rahane's experience at the top, they are a solid opening pair.
One man's loss is another's gain. With Steven Smith not playing, it opens the door for D'arcy Short, who will play in his maiden IPL. He had a phenomenal 2017-18 BBL season, becoming the highest run scorer that too at a mind-blowing strike rate. He also bowls left-arm Chinaman variety which will give Rahane an extra option in the bowling department.
The middle order looks sturdy with the likes of Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, and Jos Butler. For Rajasthan to fire, Ben Stokes will play a crucial role with both bat and ball during the IPL. In IPL-2017, he scored a blistering century to take Pune home when they were struggling on 10 for 3, which shows how he can single-handedly change the complexion of the game.
He will play a key role in case the top order doesn't perform. With Jos Butler, they can get a rapid 40-50 odd runs in case of a slow start. Butler is a terrific finisher and also provides an extra wicket-keeping option to the team.
Jaydev Unadkat, who was the costliest bowler in the auction, will spearhead the fast bowling department for the Royals. Unadkat was the leading wicket-taker in last year's IPL and has a knack of picking up wickets upfront. He will have company in Dhaval Kulkarni, who has improved significantly, and hit the right length during last year's IPL.
They also have an exciting talent in Jofra Archer, who was bought for a whopping Rs. 7.2 crores during the auction. He was the star performer at the BBL where he was one amongst the top 5 bowlers and bagged 17 wickets. Being an all-rounder, his contribution provides depth to the Rajasthan Royal's batting as well.
In the spinners category, they have Krishnappa Gowtham who is an emerging spinner and will be a handful during the middle overs.
That leaves us to one last question, Who will be the floater?
They have two very good options, and depending on the pitch, they can choose between Shreyas Gopal or Stuart Binny. The former would be a better option, considering that most of the tracks would aid spin bowling.
He gets the ball to sharply turn and has been in fine form. The only Achilles heel for Rajasthan Royals would be the bench strength since there are not many known names there. If nobody is injured and they play their first eleven throughout the tournament, they will surely be serious contenders to win the 11th edition of the IPL.Published 07 Apr 2018, 11:16 IST