Rajasthan Royals, a franchise which set very high expectations among fans after winning the inaugural season has been quite disappointing in the rest of the seasons apart from making the playoffs a couple of times. This year though, they haven’t made a lot of changes mainly in the batting department. They start their campaign against CSK tomorrow and so let’s take a look at the playing 11 they are likely to go with in the first match of the season.
It is going to be the first IPL for the talented youngster Yashasvi Jaiswal and he will get hugely benefited with the presence of Jos Buttler at the other end although not in the first game as the latter has confirmed that he won’t be a part of the first game which comes as a big loss for the Royals. However, in his debut season Jaiswal will look to live upto the hype he has got after a successful U19 World Cup.
Either Sanju Samson or Robin Uthappa will be given the responsibilities of opening the inning in Buttler’s absence and any of these two not opening will move down to number 4 position. Samson hasn’t quite been able to play to his full potential in any of the season but this might be his coming of age season. The gifted youngster would want to have a good IPL to make a strong case for his selection in Indian T20 team again.
Steve Smith (captain)
Captain Steve Smith can play at either 3 or 4 but in our team, number 3 is the ideal position for him. He had a disappointing T20 series in England and he would like to show that he is a better batsman than that. Smith had a poor IPL in 2019 in terms of strike rate which was only 116 but that wouldn’t worry him much because these conditions will suit his anchoring kind of roles.
In the likely event of Sanju Samson opening the inning, veteran Robin Uthappa will come to bat at 4. Uthappa has finally moved to some other team after playing for KKR for so long. Much like his captain, Uthappa also struggled with the low strike rate in last season which may prompt the management to make him open in the first game. He will have to evolve his game into a more aggressive mode to maintain his place in the playing 11.
English all rounder Ben Stokes is placed at 5 and he will look to redeem his T20 reputation after doing the same in ODIs and Tests. After a successful IPL in 2017, he has struggled in past couple of seasons with his batting average not even crossing 20. With ball too, his economy was over 11 in 2019 which shows Stokes has plenty of work to do in this year’s IPL and that would of course provide a lot of much needed balance to the Royals.
David Miller/ Tom Curran
In the absence of Jos Buttler, either of David Miller or Tom Curran fill up the vacant overseas slot. Going by the balance, Tom Curran would be a much more sensible option given that he will give them 3 or 4 overs as well. But if RR will need a finisher, then can play David Miller at number 6. Miller though has seen a downward curve in his career after 2014 and doesn’t raise much confidence in himself.
Parag was one of the very few players who impressed for Rajasthan Royals last year. The 18 years old scored 160 runs in the previous season at an average of 32 and strike rate of 126 which showcased his true capabilities in truest sense. Royals would be expecting him to carry forward the start he got in 2019 while he will bat at 6 when Buttler returns or if Tom Curran plays.
Coming to the bowling department, Karnataka born leg spinner Shreyas Gopal would lead the spin bowling. Gopal was their brightest Indian player last year where he picked 20 wickets in the season at an average of 19 which also included a hattrick against RCB. Gopal would also have the advantage of long boundaries at these venues which means he can bowl more bravely.
Jofra Archer is the primary fast bowler of Rajasthan Royals who will have the responsibility of bowling both up front in the powerplays and at the death. Archer can bowl good yorkers and sharp bouncers at 145 kmph and his 26 wickets in last 2 seasons speaks volumes of his abilities which have been converted into performance as well.
Jaydev Unadkat has been a real weak link in the Royals bowling in previous couple of seasons but he is still good enough, at least that’s what RR management thinks to give him a game in the beginning. Unadkat went over 9 in 2018 and over 10 runs per over in 2019 but his great Ranji season would have given him a lot of confidence for this tournament.
Kartik Tyagi/ Varun Aaron
For the Indian fast bowler slot, the toss up is between Kartik Tyagi and Varun Aaron and either of these two could play honestly. However, with a strong U19 World Cup performance, Tyagi makes a stronger case than Varun.