The teams are gearing up and getting their affairs in order for the new edition of the Indian Premier League set to begin on March 26. While Rajasthan Royals revealed their jersey yesterday, the team’s Director of Cricket and Head Coach Kumar Sangakkara discussed what to expect from the team in a chat with Suhail Chandok on Red Bull Cricket Room on Club House.
The former Sri Lanka captain dissected the strategy that the Rajasthan-based franchise adopted in the mega-auctions held on February 11 and 12. He clarified that they were looking to build a team primarily with an Indian core with quality batters and bowlers who could be supported by experienced overseas players.
“I think, we got a wonderfully accomplished squad that can play in different match conditions, against different oppositions,” said Sangakkara.
“Going into the auction, we kind of had a feel for what the room might do and the dynamics might be and also for the pitfall, where everything goes haywire and unpredictable things happen. But I thought we were very well prepared, especially reading the room in the first few marquee lots which we had anticipated and discussed before the auction.”
Answering a question about the change in approach in how IPL franchises now prioritise buying players that offer more value and utility over big names and reputations, Sangakkara cited the example of Suresh Raina and said, “There are different ways to look at it. As the years go by, players change and reputations are also made new by younger players.”
“In the case of Suresh Raina, his reputation is unbelievable in IPL cricket. He has been an absolute legend, one of the best and top-most performers season after season.”
“When you go into granular detail, perhaps the player is not suited for that season. It takes nothing away from the player being one of the best ever, or the player being of absolute high quality and it is something that analysts, coaches and owners look for.”
One of the biggest talking points about the IPL auction was the idea of R Ashwin and Jos Buttler playing for the same team after the infamous run-out at the non-striker’s end in 2019. Sangakkara acknowledged the rivalry but was confident of the two players giving it their best for the franchise together.
“In terms of Ashwin (Ravichandran) and Jos (Buttler), the rivarly was electric. It’s part of this high-performance atmosphere and stage that they play on and they manage to deal with it in their own ways.”
“I think it is brilliant that both of them are highly intelligent and committed individuals who add great value. For them to be able to talk about it in that way and to come to terms with it and with each other is really important.”
The head coach also reflected upon his views on captain Sanju Samson, who will be leading the side for the second season and hailed him as one of the best T20 players going around.
“There is no doubt in my mind that with someone like him in your side, he will be your first retention. He is a magnificent player, destructive... he’s a match-winner.”
“In terms of captaincy, I’ve come to admire him greatly. He’s got such a passion for Rajasthan Royals, he started here, he values the franchise and the support and the connection. He’s a captain who is willing to admit that he perhaps doesn’t know everything as yet and is going to grow into it. He has natural leadership abilities and he is going to get better and better.”
Kumar Sangakkara also made a few predictions for Rajasthan Royals for the upcoming season:
First half-century - Yashaswi Jaiswal
First century - Sanju Samon or Jos Buttler
First wicket - Trent Boult