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Sanju Samson’s Royals finally aim to live up to potential

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Last updated on 17 Mar 2024 | 10:29 AM
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Sanju Samson’s Royals finally aim to live up to potential

Always a pre-tournament favourite, can Rajasthan Royals finally turn their fortunes around?

IPL 2023 Finish: Fifth

New Additions: Rovman Powell, Shubham Dubey, Tom Kohler-Cadmore. Abid Mushtaq, Nandre Burger

(Please Note: Prasidh Krishna has been ruled out of the 2024 IPL)

A promise? That’s what the Rajasthan Royals have been reduced to in the past few years. 

Sanju Samson’s men have promised a lot, but unfortunately, the closest they have been to standing next to the IPL trophy since 2008 was in 2022, when they reached the final. They had an evident void, and in 2023, they tried to fill that with Jason Holder. 

Once that experiment failed, they got another explosive Windies batter, Rovman Powell, to fill that void. Will this move finally help them fulfil that promise? 

What can win them the trophy?

An explosive batting unit

What do you ask in the top three? Consistency? Explosivity? Both? 

Look no further than Rajasthan Royals’ top three. 

Rajasthan’s top three were the second-best team in the last IPL in terms of run rate (9). Not just that, they also averaged a staggering 36.4, finding boundaries with so much ease. While Buttler had a relatively poor season, he will be itching to find his hands at the IPL. 

Then there’s Yashasvi Jaiswal, a name enough to drive fear into the heart of the opposition. Jaiswal scored 625 runs last year, striking at 175.2 in the powerplay, a phase where he averaged 60.17. 

If you go past the two, there’s a third who combines consistency with power: Sanju Samson. He didn’t have the best IPL last year, but given that he is still in the scheme of things for the upcoming T20 World Cup in the Windies and USA, there’s all the chance in the world that he will fire all the guns. 

Riyan Parag’s terrific T20 form

Riyan Parag hasn’t quite lit up the IPL like at the domestic level. He knows that, but if Rajasthan finally gives him an extended run at that No.4 position, there could be very little to stop him from turning up big in crucial games. 

Since 2022 (min 10 games), Parag has the best average (75.71) for a No.4 in T20 cricket. He also has the sixth-best strike-rate for any batter (167.2) in the same time frame. Are you wondering whether he was consistent? 

In the 2023 SMAT season, Parag scored seven consecutive half-centuries, creating history. The right-handed batter from Assam scored 40 sixes, the second-most in a single edition of the competition. It is a prime opportunity for RR to trust Parag at No.4. 

What can lose them the trophy?

A burden too big for Chahal-Ashwin?

24.1, that’s how much the Royals’ spinners averaged last year. That was the second-best average for any spin units at the competition. They took a wicket under every three overs bowled, with 44 total wickets in the season. 

The 2008 IPL winners only picked up 85 wickets, of which their spinners took 51%. It was evident they heavily relied on their spin unit last year. While they might have added Avesh Khan into the mix, even that doesn’t solve a lot of their worries. 

Their entire bowling could still largely depend on the two spinners - Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravichandran Ashwin. It isn’t to be forgotten that Chahal bowled 14 overs at the death. 

Balance of the team

A problem that has continually haunted the Royals has been the balance of the team. So much so that it has now become a never-ending problem. After letting go of the Windies all-rounder Jason Holder, they had to plug that hole with an all-rounder of the same calibre. 

Instead of doing that, the franchise picked Rovman Powell, someone who doesn’t bowl as much as Holder, putting the balance of their team in real jeopardy. Last year, Holder bowled 28.3 overs and was later dropped from the setup, averaging close to 71. The problem ended up costing them a place in the playoffs. 

Powell has bowled a grand total of 3.5 overs since June 2023, and his economy rate in every game read 13, 6, 18 and 12. Considering all these factors, Rajasthan's balance will yet again be screwed. Do they have a solution for that? 

Things to watch out for

- Sanju Samson’s consistency

- Trent Boult’s thunderbolt in the powerplay

- Sandeep Sharma to carry on his terrific form

- Shimron Hetmyer’s form (Avg: 23.33, 24 dismissals in 28 innings, 17.3 balls/dismissal)

Probable XI

RR’s likely XI: Jos Buttler (wk), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson (c), Riyan Parag, Shimron Hetmyer, Dhruv Jurel (IP), Rovman Powell, Ravichandran Ashwin, Trent Boult, Yuzvendra Chahal, Sandeep Sharma, Avesh Khan (IP)

Dhruv Jurel could yet again be employed as an impact player in the upcoming IPL, who could be swapped for Avesh Khan, depending on whether they are bowling or batting first. Shubham Dubey could be an outside option to be used as an impact player. 

Uncapped X-Factor

Shubham Dubey

A left-handed middle-order batter, Dubey, who made his T20 debut in 2021, enjoyed a breakthrough Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (SMAT) campaign in 2023 for Vidarbha, smashing 221 runs at an average of 73.66 and a strike rate of 187.3. He also hit 18 sixes, one every 6.55 balls - the fourth-best in the competition. 

Also Read: Who is Shubham Dubey, the batter who got purchased for 5.80 crore by RR?

Schedule till April 7

March 24: Rajasthan Royals vs Lucknow Super Giants (Home) 

March 28: Rajasthan Royals vs Delhi Capitals (Home)

April 1: Mumbai Indians vs Rajasthan Royals (Away)

April 6: Rajasthan Royals vs Royal Challengers Bangalore (Home)

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