Both Rajasthan Royals (RR) and Punjab Kings (PBKS) are set to play their first match of the tournament against each on Monday (April 11). The two franchises have had limited success over the last few years and with many talented players on both sides, it is set to be an exciting contest with plenty of runs and wickets on offer.
In an exclusive face-off against Criclytics, Cricket.com’s AI-driven prediction platform, former West Indies captain Brian Lara is not sure if RR will be able to cope without Jofra Archer, who is set to miss the initial stage of the tournament due to surgery on his right hand.
“It’s a big loss for them (RR). That fear factor with those four overs of Jofra Archer has in a T20 game and the opposing team will be very fearful. With him not being there, I don’t know if their attack is mature enough to handle without him,” Lara said on Cricket.com’s Man vs Machine.
The batting great also added that he isn’t entirely sure if Chris Morris – IPL’s most expensive player – could make up for Archer’s absence. “I know they brought in Chris Morris. He is an experienced player. Can he fit that bill? Can he turn things around and be the Jofra Archer of the team? I am not 100 percent sure. He obviously offers a lot more in terms of batting and stuff like that. I’m sure RR would love to have from the very start of the tournament. A little bit of the fear factor that RR had has disappeared with his absence,” Lara said.
Sticking with RR, Lara also weighed in on Sanju Samson as captain. The 26-year-old was handed the reins ahead of the season and with the help of Kumar Sangakkara – RR’s new director of cricket – is expected to ring in a new era for the franchise. RR finished in the last position last season and given that they have splurged cash on the likes of Morris, Liam Livingstone, Shivam Dube, Mustafizur Rahman and others, they will look to put up a better show this time around.
Lara, however, reckons Samson lacks stability and is at times reckless, which is certainly not a quality you want in your captain.
“You look at his batting, sometimes it’s reckless, entertaining. He’s a very attractive player. Sometimes he gets a bit of a brain fade. How is that approach to batting going to affect the team? That’s my problem with him. He’s enterprising and everything, but sometimes a leader needs to have that stability and you can depend on your leader, just like KL Rahul. You can depend on Rahul for runs, but Sanju Samson on many occasions has looked so good, but has popped the ball in the air…and gone. You don’t need your captain to be that irresponsible,” Lara said on Samson.
Sticking to captaincy, Lara does not for a second feel that the weight of captaincy has brought PBKS captain KL Rahul down. In fact, he feels the other batsmen around him have to take on more responsibility.
“You need players from every team that’s going to guarantee you runs and he is one of those players. What the other guys have to do is to bat around him and step the tempo up. If my captain is going to score at a strike-rat of 125, that’s fine. It’s up to the rest of us now to take the other half of the innings and put the runs on the board,” Lara, the only cricketer to score a 400 in Tests said.
“So, I like the stability he brings to the team. Of course, you want to believe that anybody who bats through the innings, scores a lot of runs will always be the man who puts the other team out of reach in terms of getting your total. He has not been able to do that. But if he is giving me runs, I can sort of form the team alongside him, get my attacking players to produce the run-rate that will give us that unassailable target,” he added.