With a new captain comes huge responsibility but at the same time, comes immense pressure that Sanju Samson and the management have to handle after they released Steve Smith. That coupled with the fact that they have placed their trust in Unadkat, Miller while releasing Curran remains questionable.
Rajasthan Royals, since their first-ever season of the IPL, have struggled massively to keep in touch with their historic past. Every time they have reached the play-off stage, they have fallen horribly short and ended up ridiculing themselves time and again. However, last season looked like the last it would be for Steve Smith, who had an equally bad year as a batsman and a captain, which has prompted changes. Sanju Samson has been made the skipper, a lot of trusts has been placed in Buttler and Stokes but what about the others?
Who has RR retained?
Sanju Samson (c), Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler, Riyan Parag, Shreyas Gopal, Rahul Tewatia, Mahipal Lomror, Kartik Tyagi, Andrew Tye, Jaydev Unadkat, Mayank Markande, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Anuj Rawat, David Miller, Manan Vohra
Who has RR released?
Steve Smith, Ankit Rajpoot, Oshane Thomas, Akash Singh, Varun Aaron, Tom Curran, Anirudha Joshi, Shashank Singh, Robin Uthappa (traded to CSK)
What is their remaining purse?
INR 37.85 cr
How many slots do they have available?
9 (3 overseas)
New skipper Samson here, Smith who?
Rajasthan Royals had to really make a decision after finishing last in the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League. By no stretch of the imagination was it their worst-ever season but despite having a star-studded squad and a head-start in comparison to the other teams, their failure was something unexpected. That combined with Steve Smith’s personal form – there was a hard decision impending and that’s exactly what they have executed this season. Not only have they released their trusted member of the squad but also made a switch in captaincy, handing the reins over to Sanju Samson. Many fans hoped Smith would continue till the mega Auction but Rajasthan saw enough of his batting and captaincy last season, which only prompts us to this question. Why did you kick Rahane for Smith in the first place? Mind-boggling tactics, to say the least!
Rajasthan comes in as guardian angel for Jaydev Unadkat
Akash Singh, Varun Aaron, and Ankit Rajpoot – three pacers who have found the door after their season last year. In between, they have just two wickets, which makes all the sense to drop them out of the squad. But what’s baffling is the franchise’s trust in Jaydev Unadkat, who has shown time and time again, his vulnerability with the white-ball. No doubt he is one of the best in the country with the red-ball but his indifferent form in the IPL has cost several games for the franchise, including the one against RCB last year. While they showed enough trust in youngsters like Kartik Tyagi, Mahipal Lomror, and Yashasvi Jaiswal, they have failed to show the same level of respect to Akash Singh, who in fact could have been a cheaper and a better option to the left-arm seamer Unadkat. In fact, statistically, the left-armer conceded at an economic rate of 9.91 while averaging 57.
Back-up to Jofra Archer
Jofra Archer arguably was just behind the likes of Kagiso Rabada and Jasprit Bumrah in terms of the wicket-takers list in the 2020 IPL but was named Most Valuable Player (MVP) for his impact. While his impact left an indelible mark on the franchise, who had trusted him to do the honors of picking wickets – with the new ball, in the middle over and towards the end, they would have to go into the Auction needing an able support bowler to the pacer. While they could have done well with Tom Curran and Oshane Thomas as back-up bowlers, their trust in Andrew Tye is perplexing. The franchise has operated in such a way that it has caused more confusion than it had in the first place, with the retention of David Miller and Tye. It would be important for the franchise to pick up handy pacers from the Auction, specifically – Indian bowlers who would create an impact. But as it stands, they are heavily short on the bowling end of things.
Firepower in the middle-order
Last season, they managed to scrape through towards the end of the season, on the back of heroics from Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, and Jos Buttler but in essence, their middle-order’s contribution has been pretty thin. That’s also one of the biggest reasons that they didn’t qualify to the knock-out stage last season, which also includes their bizarre strategy. Let’s talk about the middle-order, which had Jos Buttler, Steve Smith, and Ben Stokes. Now if they all batted in the middle-order, it would have looked handy but in reality, they didn’t, all of them opened the batting at some point, which was questionable. If they are to revert back to Samson and Buttler at the top of the order, they need a reliable batsman in the middle, who can score runs at both handy pace as well as keep the run-rate ticking. But that’s where the problem lies, is there any good middle-order batsman left in the Auction? Shivam Dube anyone?
Bold at times, the fact that they went on to release Steve Smith ahead of the mega auction is a sign of what they want to achieve over the next few years. But with all the bold statements that they have made, be it Smith’s axing or Samson’s promotion, there are plenty of the age-old questions that need to be answered. The confidence that they have placed in Unadkat, despite him having two back-to-back bad years, the overreliance on top-order, and their punts on David Miller and Andrew Tye – two stars who have fallen horribly off the radar in the past few years. That’s where things get a bit dicey and that’s what they need to solve, now or never!
Overall rating: 6/10