After the auction for 2020 edition of Indian Premier League, in this series we take a look at how the teams stack up and what their strengths, weaknesses are.
Breakdown of the RR squad with players bought at the auction highlighted in bold:
Rajasthan Royals had a lot to cheer for last summer despite having a below-par season in the Indian Premier League. Their skipper Steve Smith made a triumphant return to international cricket from a one-year ban, helping Australia retain the Ashes. What would have pleased them even more was their English trio – Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer, and Ben Stokes – all playing pivotal roles in their country’s men’s team lifting the World Cup for the first time. All of them are match-winners in their own right.
It was therefore easier for Rajasthan in the auction, because they knew who their first-choice foreign quartet would be. They needed to build a team around them and this auction saw them revert back to type – banking on young Indian talent.
Among teenage cricketers, nobody has earned more plaudits than Mumbai’s Yashasvi Jaiswal. In the domestic white-ball season, the 17-year-old batted with carefree abandon and his shot-making was a sight to behold. The 2008 champions have every reason to believe that they might have pulled off a coup there.
While Sanju Samson, Stokes and young Riyan Parag make up for a decent middle-order lineup, the lack of a lower-order hitter came back to haunt them in the closing stages of a few games last season. The decision to trade long-standing servant Ajinkya Rahane was perhaps made keeping that in mind. As was the call to go for South Africa’s David Miller. The southpaw’s blow hot-blow cold nature is a concern but adds some much-needed depth to the middle-order.
Mayank Markande was traded before the auction and adds more depth to their spin department. At times in the past, the dependable Shreyas Gopal has cut a lonely figure, and they turned to Parag to chip in.
However, Rajasthan Royals going back for Jaydev Unadkat became a running joke on social media. The left-armer has failed to get going in the last two seasons. The management continues to scratch their heads searching for Archer’s support cast. Andrew Tye and England’s Tom Curran have been signed keeping that in mind. Tye, on his day, is a tricky customer and has creditable IPL performances to his name.
Another name that raised eyebrows during the auction was veteran Robin Uthappa. Zubin Barucha, head of cricket at Rajasthan Royals, said that it was far from a hasty move: “He [Uthappa] has always been on our radar ever since he joined KKR, and has performed exceedingly well for them over the past six seasons. He has been a part of their title-winning seasons, and we look forward to him bringing his experience to our team.”
The 34-year-old’s batting prowess has been on the wane somewhat in shorter formats and has Buttler and Samson ahead of him in the pecking order with the gloves.
Karthik Tyagi and Akash Singh are also additions to Rajasthan’s youth policy.
The biggest signing, though, may well turn out to be coach Andrew McDonald, who is one of the more sought after coaches in the Australian circuit. There will be an air of familiarity when he teams up with Smith once again.
One of Rajasthan’s biggest challenges in recent years has been their English core leaving for national duties at a crucial stage during the season. But their overseas quartet should be available for the full season. Even so, this time, the bench has been strengthened to back-up their stars and the squad looks settled and balanced, at least on paper.