Can the Royals win it?
If the exciting young home-grown players work in sync with their overseas superstars, it can end more than a decade of drought for the Rajasthan Royals.
What can work for them?
The team’s engine room consists of foreigners such as captain Steve Smith, Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer and David Miller. They also have talented young players from the domestic front in U-19 stars such as Yashasvi Jaiswal, Riyan Parag and Kartik Tyagi interspersed with the experienced Sanju Samson and Shreyas Gopal. It’s this amalgamation of talents that’s undeniably the strength of Royals.
Smith as the captain, elevated midway through the course of the last season, will give them a fresh, out-of-box perspective that can help them wade through difficult times.
Where can they falter?
There’s a question mark on the availability of world-class all-rounder Ben Stokes. The premier all-rounder is currently in Christchurch with his father, who was diagnosed with brain cancer. Stokes is all set to miss the bulk of IPL. “The franchise will not even call Ben as this is not a priority at the moment. Let him spend quality family time and any discussions on his availability can happen only after that,” a team source had told PTI.
Given his wealth of experience and the ability to swing the fortunes of a match through his batting, bowling or fielding, Stokes’ absence would be a huge blow for the Royals.
Will they think of
Playing Samson as an opener: The Kerala wicket-keeper had batted at No.3 last season, a position in which he had scored a rollicking century against Sunrisers Hyderabad. One of his biggest issues with Samson has been his poor conversion rate. In the absence of Ajinkya Rahane, the team management could just ask him to open the innings with Jos Buttler. With two explosive openers upfront, no total will look inconceivable and no target unachievable. This elevation could also help Samson step up his game and unfurl more match-winning knocks.
Who’s the new boy in class?
With 213 runs from 10 matches, David Miller’s previous season with the Kings XI Punjab hardly turned heads. The South African was picked up by the Royals for Rs 75 lakh this year. While his 38-ball 100 against the Royal Challengers Bangalore seven years ago underlined his prowess in the IPL, a new franchise and a new venue could help Miller come into his own. In the absence of Stokes, he becomes the Royals’ middle-order mainstay.
— Rajasthan Royals (@rajasthanroyals) September 22, 2020
Heard of this rookie
Yashasvi Jaiswal is only 18, but he is already being touted as the next big thing in Indian cricket. There’s a sense of maturity and calm in his batting that belies his age. Jaiswal scored over 400 runs with five half-centuries at the ICC U-19 World Cup earlier this year. The teenager is all set to make his IPL debut in this season, and his presence gives the Royals the requisite stability at the top of the order.
Last 5 years: 4, suspended, suspended, 4, 7
Quarantine Quotient: Low
Average age: 25 (Playing XI 27)
Total Experience: 1674 T20 games
(Calculated on the assumption that age and experience helps to cope with COVID-19 restrictions)