Multiple availability issues, a heartbreaking first game loss, and a few failed gambles. The Royals of Rajasthan have seen it all, but are still there fighting for those top 4 slots. Here is our attempt to analyze a fightback plan to ensure a strong chapter two in the Royals’ 2021 campaign.
Fightback plan 1: Strong Opening Partners
Going into the season the Royals planned to open with Ben Stokes considering how well it worked in the latter part of the 2020 season. Unfortunately, Stokes sustained an injury at the start, and RR was forced to open with Jos Buttler initially slotted as no 5.
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If we exclude Jos’ last game ton against SRH, he struggled to find form. It is safe to say that he failed to have much impact on his team’s campaign. Averaging a mere 22, Jos was striking at an SR of 134, well below his standards.
Add the second opener conundrum to it and it gets even more intense. Royals chose to start with Vohra but he failed to offer anything apart from few aesthetically pleasing shots. The team then switched to young Yashashwi Jaiswal who did a slightly better job but was still not quite there.
Considering that neither of Jos and Ben is likely to join the Royals camp in UAE, they must find someone who can open the inning for them. They have Liam Livingstone available and considering his recent exploits in Vitality Blast and The Hundred, he seems to be the man.
Fightback plan 2: Sorting Middle-order woes
Moving to the middle order, not much change. Shivam Dube was bought by the franchise in the auction and they showed belief in him to be their number four but this ploy backfired. Dube came with a reputation of a six-hitting allrounder but only managed an awful strike rate of 117.
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Apart from one game against RCB, his impact as a batsman is negative. His footwork is under the scrutiny of analysts and fans alike. One of the reputed sports channels presented a graphic about his static feet while batting.
Dube’s partner in the middle order was David Miller who is not up to the mark for quite a few seasons now. This season was no different, he was on verge of getting dropped for Livingstone when the season stopped.
At three, captain Sanju Samson had his fair share of ups and downs and it was evident that he was in desperate need of support. They have Anuj Rawat and Mahipal Lomror. Not that they are very dependable but RR’s best bet is to give a long run to one of them and just hope that it pays off, shall be part of their fightback plan. Additionally, they shall give a long run to Miller at 4. He is a batsman who needs time to settle down, which he isn’t getting at 5.
Quality Spin what?
Rajasthan has a huge scarcity of spinners. The lone spinner they played in most games was Tewatia who is not a top-notch skill-setter with the ball. They used part-timer Riyan Parag as their second spinner. Though RR has played Shreyas Gopal occasionally, he is struggling at this level since last year.
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They are the only team without a single in-form spinner. Considering that the next phase is in the slow and sluggish tracks of the UAE, they must find someone to do the job. Else the campaign may turn into a disaster.
1. Wanindu Hasaranga: Even though we suggested him for RCB too, Rajasthan Royals is not a bad team for him either. A quality spinner who bats in the middle is exactly what they need. On the flip side, even Hasarana will be sure of getting games, as he desired earlier.
2. Josh Inglis: Josh can open as well as play in upper-middle order. This explosive Oz batsman is in sublime form since last year and might also make it to the Australian team very soon.
3. Harry Brook: Harry has similar credentials to Josh but is slightly behind in the pecking order. He was captain of the English U19 side in the same WC where the likes of Shaw and Gill played. One of the star performers in Blast and The Hundred, he shall be considered if no experienced option is available.
4. Tabraiz Shamsi: It’s usually very tough to make it into an IPL playing XI as an overseas spinner unless you are Rashid Khan. But considering how RR anyways finds it tough to complete their OS quota, it might not be a bad option to rope in the world no. 1 T20I bowler.
RR might not be as strong as other teams above them in the points table but they have shown some serious fighting spirit in most games they played. We do expect the same from them once again. With the fightback plan suggested here and a few more changes, making it to the top four is very much doable for them.