Having finished in seventh and eighth position in the last two seasons of the Indian Premier League, Rajasthan Royals have a lot to prove this time around. The franchise has lost eight matches in each of the last two editions, for a grand total of 23 points from 28 matches. In a league that boasts of its high quality across the board, often rightly so, that is simply not good enough.
In the last season before an expected shake-up of teams for 2022, Royals have decided to ring in the changes. A new captain in Sanju Samson, a new-look support staff, some new faces in the team.
And while every team heading into the tournament has had to deal with injuries to first choice players, the Royals were perhaps dealt the biggest blow when Jofra Archer was ruled out for, at the very least, initial stages of the season. It is as yet unclear when RR will have the star pacer, who is nursing a freak hand injury, back in their camp.
In IPL 2020, when Rajasthan finished last on the table, one of the biggest issues for them was the pace bowling department. Despite their dismal run, Archer did exceedingly well to bag the Most Valuable Player of the season award but he missed a dependable partner in the attack throughout. And looking at RR’s squad for IPL 2021, it seems they could struggle once again in this aspect.
Another area of concern for the Royals last season was the over-dependency on Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler. They released first XI regulars Steve Smith and Robin Uthappa and have made some interesting choices to shore up their batting lineup.
Players bought by RR at auction
|Christopher Morris||All-Rounder||Rs 162500000|
|Shivam Dube||All-Rounder||Rs 44000000|
|Chetan Sakariya||Bowler||Rs 12000000|
|Mustafizur Rahman||Bowler||Rs 10000000|
|Liam Livingstone||All-Rounder||Rs 7500000|
|K.C Cariappa||Bowler||Rs 2000000|
|Akash Singh||Bowler||Rs 2000000|
|Kuldip Yadav||Bowler||Rs 2000000|
RR squad for IPL 2021
|Yashasvi Jaiswal||Jofra Archer||Sanju Samson||Ben Stokes|
|Mahipal Lomror||Mayank Markande||Jos Buttler||Rahul Tewatia|
|Manan Vohra||Shreyas Gopal||Anuj Rawat||Chris Morris|
|Riyan Parag||Jaydev Unadkat||Shivam Dube|
|David Miller||Kartik Tyagi||Liam Livingstone|
One of the biggest talking points at the IPL 2021 auction was, of course, the signing of Chris Morris by Rajasthan for an all-time record sum. The Royals broke the bank for the South African all-rounder and he will need to take a great amount of responsibility with both bat and ball.
With Archer being out of action, Australia’s Andrew Tye and Bangladesh’s Mustafizur Rahman could have a lot to do as well, based on who gets the nod. While Tye has upped his pace in recent times which makes his slower ball more lethal, Rahman could be useful on the slow Chennai tracks where Rajasthan will play four games.
In terms of batting, Royals will again need to figure out how to make the most of Samson, Stokes and Buttler. They have Morris and Rahul Tewatia at the death, with Shivam Dube being a decent addition too, but the likes of Yashasvi Jaiswal, Mahipal Lomror and Riyan Parag will need to take responsibility too.
One of the most promising additions to the RR setup has been that of Kumar Sangakkara. The former Sri Lanka captain will call the shots for 2021 as Director of Cricket and the Royals will hope he can bring the kind of success his former teammate Mahela Jayawardene brought to Mumbai Indians. Andrew McDonald was expected to return as coach but RR revamped their structure.
- Kumar Sangakkara: Director of Cricket
- Trevor Penney: Lead Assistant coach
- Amol Muzumdar: Batting coach
- Sairaj Bahatule: Spin bowling coach
- Rob Cassell: Fast bowling coach
- Dishant Yagnik: Fielding coach
India’s T20 World Cup plans
A sidetrack during IPL 2021 is going to be seeing how India’s T20 World Cup squad probables / hopefuls / outsiders perform.
- Samson is definitely someone the Indian selectors will be wishing a strong season for. The highly talented wicketkeeper-batsman was in the squad in Australia last year but has now been pipped by Rishabh Pant. Samson showed sparks of brilliance last season but as he does so often, he failed to find consistency. The right-hander has the game to succeed at the highest level, his intent is a T20 delight but he needs a big season with the bat.
- Rahul Tewatia is the other Royals player who is in with a chance for the T20 World Cup later this year. He enjoyed a phenomenal IPL 2020 (with best all-rounder stats for an Indian) and got called up for the England series, but didn’t get a game. The leg-spinner and explosive left-handed batsman will be hoping to prove his credentials once again and remain in the reckoning.
The Big Question(s)
As is often the case with Rajasthan Royals, there isn’t one big question but many. They have taken a big call by making Samson the captain and while he has done well in that position for his state side Kerala, it remains to be seen how he will manage high profile players, the pressure and just as importantly – his batting. Then there is the batting combination that needs to be sorted. Playing Samson, Buttler and Stokes at the top of the order will be tempting but again, that could put a great amount of pressure on the young Indian batsman. In a revelation from an interesting source, England and KKR captain Eoin Morgan has said the Royals are likely to go with a Buttler-Stokes opening combo. And finally, there is the bowling combination. With Archer unavailable, there will be added pressure on the Indian bowlers in the squad.
Most Valuable Player
Samson, Stokes and Buttler are all more than capable of owning this tag but because of the sensational auction bid for him, we have to go with Morris. Rajasthan lacked depth in the middle order as well as the pace bowling department last season and the South African will need to fire on both flanks this time around. While the price paid for him remains debatable, Morris definitely has it in him to win matches for Rajasthan if he plays to potential and remains fit for the season.
Uncapped player to look out for
Rajasthan Royals have a number of talented uncapped Indian players in their ranks but we’ll have to go with Tewatia. The all-rounder has been in the Indian domestic cricket circles for years now and has the experience to put his head down and keep delivering the performances. Not many expected him to perform the way he did last season and it will be interesting to see how he manages expectations this time around. Having said that, the 27-year-old does have the skills to shine in this format and the Royals will be banking on him to come good again.
Ideal playing XI
Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Manan Vohra / Yashaswi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson, Riyan Parag, Shivam Dube, Rahul Tewatia, Chris Morris, Shreyas Gopal, Andrew Tye, Kartik Tyagi.
RR over the years in IPL
|Season||League stage finish||Playoff result|
|IPL 2011||6th out of 10||––|
|IPL 2012||7th out of 9||––|
|IPL 2013||3rd out of 9||Won Eliminator, Lost Qualifier 2|
|IPL 2015||4th||Lost in the Eliminator|
|IPL 2018||4th||Lost in the Eliminator|
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