While the original expectation was that the Indian Premier League’s 14th edition would be preceded by a mega auction, franchises are set for another short-term recruitment drive. With no new teams added to the league, the eight existing franchises were given the chance to retain the bulk of their squad. And so, a maximum of 61 slots spread across teams are to be filled up during the IPL 2021 auction, to be held in Chennai. The tournament is expected to be played in India, starting from April. You can read about rest of the teams here.
One of the best bowlers in the tournament, and the eventual Most Valuable Player. The best Indian all-rounder, in terms of numbers. Arguably, the greatest all-rounder of the modern game. Two of the best batsmen in world cricket. Rajasthan Royals had Jofra Archer, Rahul Tewatia, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Steve Smith in their squad for IPL 2020 and still ended up finishing last on the points table.
Despite some moments of extraordinary brilliance, Rajasthan faced issues in both the batting and bowling departments in IPL 2020. The Royals struggled for consistency and were overtaken on the points table by Chennai Super Kings in the final leg of the group stage in a cruel twist of fate, despite being in contention for the playoffs longer than the men in yellow.
The batting order was far from steady for the most part and captain Smith’s lean form only made matter worse. The two bright spots for them this season were undoubtedly Tewatia and Archer.
After finishing 7th and 8th in two successive seasons, the task at hand for Royals is rather significant at the player auction. And they have rung in the changes.
Results in last three seasons
|Season||League stage finish||Playoff result|
|IPL 2018||4th||Lost in the Eliminator|
The big story from retention day was Royals letting go of their captain Steve Smith. The Aussie superstar struggled for rhythm in UAE as he later admitted, and it was, in reality, not a surprise to see RR make the call. They doubled it down by announcing Sanju Samson will be captain, so there is no speculation about getting Smith back to lead the team from the auction pool at a different price point. Among other players released, Tom Curran was a regular in the side when Stokes was absent. And Robin Uthappa continues his IPL franchise hopping after being traded to CSK. In essence, the Royals just made one big decision to shake things up.
Players released after IPL 2020: Steve Smith, Akash Singh, Anirudha Joshi, Ankit Rajpoot, Oshane Thomas, Shashank Singh, Tom Curran, Varun Aaron
Players traded out: Robin Uthappa
There is still a world-beating core for Royals that should really be performing better than they have in the tournament. Having Buttler and Stokes in good form for the duration of a campaign will help, and in Archer they have a bowler of world-class quality that other teams would give anything to possess.
Samson is a left-field choice for captain but he impressed during Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy when he led an impressive Kerala side and if he is allowed to mould the team in his image, RR could be exciting to watch next season. The team has also brought in Kumar Sangakkara to strengthen the backroom staff.
RR squad for IPL 2021 ahead of auction
|Yashasvi Jaiswal||Jofra Archer||Sanju Samson||Ben Stokes|
|Mahipal Lomror||Mayank Markande||Jos Buttler||Rahul Tewatia|
|Manan Vohra||Shreyas Gopal||Anuj Rawat|
|Riyan Parag||Jaydev Unadkat|
|David Miller||Kartik Tyagi|
Royals have the second largest purse for the auction but do not have the same resources of Punjab Kings to perhaps go decisively after their main targets. There are obvious holes in the squad and some restraint would be needed as they look to fill 12 slots, three of those overseas.
Salary cap remaining: Rs 37.85 crores
Overall slots remaining: 9
Overseas slots remaining: 3
Areas to target
- Indian pacer
- Overseas pacer
- Off-spin options (Allrounder or back-up bowler)
- Batting allrounder (probably overseas)
Whether Royals choose to bring Smith back is unsure but they would be better off looking elsewhere if they decided to move on from his leadership. The batting department really needs a boost, whether Indian or overseas, and it is crying out for a match-winner. To decide whether that needs to be in the middle order or top order, will be based on Royals’ plans for using Buttler and Yashasvi Jaiswal in the season to come. It’s an opening pair worth trusting, and RR could look to bolster the middle order that was weak last season and forced Buttler to offer to slide down because he felt the team was struggling in the late overs. The other option would be to go for someone like Dawid Malan or Alex Hales to bolster the top order, and make Buttler operate in the middle order.
So, once that decision is made, RR will look for a batsman to compliment their plans but the real area of concern is bowling. Archer was left to fend for himself far too often in the tournament. While Tyagi did well in bursts, there is a spot or two open for pacers who can slot right into the XI. An overseas allrounder (seam-bowling) and an Indian pacer might be the way to go.
The squad is also missing quality off-spin options, and Harbhajan Singh might feature on their shopping list. With Sangakkara and Andrew McDonald overseeing their plans, Royals have two smart cricketing brains calling the shots: they will need them to be at their best to improve their dismal finishes in the league.
IPL 2021: Purse & squad details before auction
|Franchise||Purse remaining (Rs crores)||Available Slots||Overseas Slots|
The auction will be telecast on Star Sports Network on 18 February from 3 pm IST.