Rajasthan Royals received the title of the “Moneyball” team of the Indian Premier League (IPL) after surprising fans and pundits by winning the inaugural edition with not-so-big players in the ranking. Since then, the franchise has shown a change in strategy and money-spending habits with aggressive bids at the auction. The change in strategy has yielded little results as the franchise has made it to the knock-out stage only twice after the win in 2008.
For the 14th edition of IPL, Rajasthan Royals released Steve Smith, the Australian batting sensation who led the side in the previous edition. The franchise then surprised fans and pundits, again, by naming Sanju Samson as their captain for the upcoming season. Even at the mini-auction on 18 February, Rajasthan Royals went big as they reserved the services of South African all-rounder Chris Morris for as much as USD2.24 million. Can the change in captaincy and big-buck players in Chris Morris bring a change in the fate of Rajasthan Royals? We’ll know once the tournament kick-starts on 9 April. For now, let’s focus on the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities that lie ahead of the franchise.
26-year-old Sanju Samson would be hoping to have a memorable IPL, both as a batsman and as skipper. Samson has a well-capable squad to lead with proven batsmen in Jos Buttler and David Miller along with all-rounders like Ben Stokes, Shivam Dube, Shreyas Gopal, and Rahul Tewatia.
A bowling unit that includes Jofra Archer, Mustafizur Rahman, Andrew Tye, Jaydev Unadkat, and youngsters in Kartik Tyagi and KC Cariappa should also help Rajasthan Royals defend totals. The bad news is that England paceman Jofra Archer has injured himself and may miss a few games or even the entire IPL.
It has been only thrice in 13 seasons that Rajasthan Royals made it to the knock-out stage of the IPL. Can the franchise turn the tables this season and clinch the trophy after a hiatus of 12 years? Let’s find out.
Rajasthan Royals flaunt a good mix of experience and youth to give the oppositions a run for their own money. The franchise, especially in the batting department, packs a punch powerful enough to derail any opposition’s bowling lineup. Experienced IPL campaigners in skipper Sanju Samson, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, and David Miller have ample youth in Yashasvi Jaiswal, Riyan Parag, Shivam Dube, and others to support them.
Rahul Tewatia, Chris Morris, and Jofra Archer also have the arsenal to hit it big and provide Rajasthan Royals with the much-needed oomph towards the end. We all remember how Rahul Tewatia hit five sixes in an over last season to get his side over the line as well as the cameos played by Jofra Archer. Rajasthan Royals would be hoping the same if not more from their newest signing, Chris Morris.
The clouds of uncertainty over Jofra Archer’s availability for the 14th season have already given the franchise a good headache. Given Archer misses the entire season, or even a few games at the beginning of the tournament, the English pacer’s absence is going to hurt the franchise big time. The fast bowler was the Most Valuable Player of IPL 2020, yet Rajasthan Royals finished at the bottom of the points table. Rajasthan Royals’ hopes of bringing the trophy have already been dented.
Jaydev Unadkat is yet to live up to the expectations. Chris Morris is another injury-prone athlete who can hamper the franchise’s chances at the league. Bangladesh paceman Mustafizur Rahman has already said he will choose national duty if he is selected for the Sri Lanka tour. What happens if Rajasthan Royals miss out on the services of these premier pacers?
Rajasthan Royals have failed to get the most out of Archer, Morris, and Unadkat. This means India pacers Kartik Tyagi, Akash Singh, and Chetan Sakariya, will have the opportunity to showcase their talent at the grand stage. All-rounder Shivam Dube will also have a chance to do justice to the hype that once surrounded his name.
Young India batter Riyan Parag and all-rounder Rahul Tewatia will be hoping to knock the doors of the national team with their IPL 2021 performance. As will be the likes of Kartik Tyagi, Yashaswi Jaiswal, Mahipal Lomror, and KC Cariappa,
Aussie fast bowler Andrew Tye will be looking to regain form for a place in the T20 World Cup squad.
A young, inexperienced captain and a bunch of uncapped & inexperienced Indian lot may either make it or break it for the Rajasthan Royals at IPL 2021. While the foreign names at Rajasthan Royals are proven match-winners, the franchise won’t be wanting to solely rely on them. Ben Stokes, Chris Morris, David Miller, Jofra Archer, Andrew Tye, Liam Livingstone can win the franchise matches on their own. Still, over-reliance on these players could prove to be harmful.
Furthermore, it will be Sanju Samson’s first stint as a captain at the IPL. Samson has captained Kerala in the domestic circuit.
Rajasthan Royals will commence their campaign at IPL 2021 against Punjab Kings on 12 April. With no home games at Jaipur, the franchise will surely miss the support of loyal fans in ‘Pink City’. COVID-19 has forced the Board of Control for Cricket in India to conduct IPL 2021 in just six cities. Rajasthan Royals will be playing their league games in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, and Bengaluru.
We would have already witnessed three games of IPL 2021 before Rajasthan step on the field on 12 April. Defending champions Mumbai Indians will kick-start the tournament against Royal Challengers Bangalore on 9 April. Keep reading AlShorts for all the updates from IPL 2021.