Rajasthan Royals has rung some massive changes after finishing at the bottom of the table in the last edition of the Indian Premier League. With Kumar Sangakkara as the new director at the helm, they released last year's skipper Steve Smith from the squad and handed over the captaincy to Sanju Samson, and bought the most expensive player in IPL history, Chris Morris. Also added some much-needed strength in the form of players like Shivam Dube and Liam Livingstone.
Though they had time and took a learned decision in the removal of Steve Smith from the squad, they could not have foreseen the unavailability of Jofra Archer who is recovering from a hand injury right before the start of the competition. This will come as a major blow to the franchise as Archer was not just their best player, but the best player in IPL last season as he bagged home the Most Valuable Player award.
With these in mind, Let's take a look at the playing XI expected to take the field for Rajasthan Royals on match day.
A vital player for the Rajasthan Royals over the years, he is one of the most destructive batsmen in the cricket world. Since his arrival to the team in 2018, he has played the role of an explosive opener to great effect. He will be hoping to reach the heights of his inaugural season for the royals when he scored 548 runs at an average of 54.80 with a strike rate of 154.24. His role will be of great importance as the Royals eye a place in the playoffs.
One of the most complete all-rounders in modern cricket, his hard-hitting talents are a welcome sight for the management in the opening overs. Joining halfway through the tournament, he was entrusted with the duties of an opener. Although struggling at first, he quickly found his groove scoring a century in a must-win match against Mumbai Indians. He would be keen to make a statement in his newfound role and show IPL 2020 was no fluke.
Having been tuning his game and nurtured through the royals squad since 2013, the management has handed the Indian batsman the reins hoping he is ready to take the next big step. Sanju Samson is a clean hitter of the ball and can play some masterful strokes, one of the highest six hitters in the last edition of IPL. Often failing inconsistency throughout the tournament, he does possess the ability to take the game away from the opposition. A career-defining IPL ahead, Sanju Samson will be wary of the eyes on him.
The management has seen the batsman as one for the future and has backed his presence in the team. Yet to experience a breakout season, he will be hoping that this will be his year. At the age of 17, he became the youngest player in IPL to score a half-century, adding on his more than useful leg break with many variations, he looks like the right player to be backed to the top stage.
Over the years David Miller has become a South African middle-order mainstay and will be hoping to play a crucial role for the Rajasthan Royals this term. A great finisher of the game, equally strong off the front and back foot will add much-needed experience in closing out the innings for this Rajasthan side. Also being an exceptionally good fielder, he will have a vital role to play in this side.
An essential strength added to the pool of local players. Everyone is well versed with the talents of Shivam Dube’s all-rounder capabilities. Adding much-needed explosiveness in the middle order, his presence will open up many options in the batting lineup. Also not too shabby with the ball, he could be entrusted with a couple of overs so some vital balling options remain open.
The biggest surprise of last season, Rahul Tewatia had everyone's heart in their mouths in his 31 balls 53 runs knock against Punjab Kings in last year’s IPL. The Indian all-rounder will be hoping he can repeat his feats of last season, as he starts this season as one of the more established names in the team. Proving his talents with both bat and ball, he will be one of the looked upon players in the squad.
Although not in the International scene, Chris Morris had a successful season in the IPL last year. Chasing interest from about four franchises, saw him ending up as the costliest player for the Royals in the auction this year. Playing 70 matches in his IPL career, he has scored at a strike rate of 157.87 and has also picked up 80 wickets. Also due to his price tag, expectations will be huge.
A consistent performer for the team over the years, Shreyas Gopal will be asked to lead the spin attack once again. The leg spinner catapulted into the spotlight after taking a hattrick against the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Also proving useful with the bat, he adds depth to the batting line up lower down the order. He will be looking to make his name one of the most successful spinners in the country.
The left-handed medium-pace bowler was one of the retention ahead of the IPL auctions this year. Apart from the 2017 IPL when he picked up 24 wickets from 12 matches, Jaydev Undakat has failed to set the tournament ablaze. Often finding his performances lacking in the Rajasthan colors. This will be a crucial year for him considering the mega auction next year.
The U-19 cricketer debuted in the last season of the IPL, though not exploding he had a decent season, to begin with. He picked up 9 wickets from the 10 matches he played, starting with a wicket in the first over in his debut match. With the absence of Jofra Archer leaving a huge gaping hole in the pace department, the management will be hoping the youngster can make great strides in the tournament.
Team Rating: 8.27/10
The management would be hoping their changes ring to be inspirational as they hope to avoid the repeat of last season. The unavailability of Jofra Archer would come as a big blow to them and will be hard to replace his impact in the squad. They will be hoping their big name players turn up with some big performances as their younger guns find their feet. Facing an uphill battle for playoffs, Rajasthan has proved over the years they are capable of springing few surprises.
Let us know your comments about the Rajasthan Royals who do you think are their top performers and how far in the tournament do you think they will go. Also, do read our picks on the top 5 players to watch out for in the upcoming season of the Indian Premier League.