The inaugural champions of the Indian Premier League, are currently 5th in the points table in the ongoing season which had stopped midway due to the virus outbreak in the bio-bubble.
2013, 2015, and 2018 were good years for the team as they were able to make it to the next round of the tournament. That will be their prime objective when the season re-starts on 19th September. In this piece, we look at how Rajasthan Royals (RR) will manage without the England stars, stats around the performance in the 2020 edition held in UAE and the current season, and what they can do to reach the next stage.
There is no way you can replace a trio of Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes, and Jos Buttler, RR will be fortunate even if one of the replacements is able to create the same level of impact. The first three encounters will be against Punjab, Delhi, and Hyderabad, and RR has a good record head to head against them. 2 of the 3 teams are below them too in the points table and will be under more pressure. RR will then a tough run against RCB, CSK, and MI one after the other. They will be hoping to get a good re-start in the tournament so that they can find themselves in the top half at the very end of the league stages.
The impact of the English trio
Archer, Stokes, and Buttler – all three walk into any T20 side in the world. Buttler for both this opening and finishing skills in the white-ball format, Stokes with his all-round talent, and Archer with this pace and bowling in the final overs. Stokes had a good performance with the bat in the 2020 edition with 285 runs striking at 142.5, he only picked two wickets with the ball. RR will miss the services of Archer and Buttler more than Stokes. Buttler is their attacking opener and 2nd highest run-scorer in this edition and also played a crucial role last time around. Archer has been good in the power play and at the back end. RR have good quality spin options but will miss a world-class pace bowler in him. The fact that in 2020 all the other pacers combined picked a total of 21 wickets in 123 overs and he had 20 wickets in 55 overs, shows the lack of good quality pace options.
PLAYERS TO LOOK OUT FOR
The captain of the team has been in good form and started the tournament with a century, and is their leading run-scorer with 277 runs. He has a contribution of 22.85 % team runs in this season and 16.39% in the previous edition in UAE. His responsibility has increased not only in terms of leading the side but also with the bat. RR will be hoping that Samson is consistent throughout the remaining season which has not been the case with him till now.
Liam Livingstone can be the X factor
Having only played four matches till now for RR back in 2019, England’s latest attacking batsman is in the form of his life and is almost a certainty in the playing XI. His six-hitting strength would be very useful in UAE an RR will hope he carries his form of 2021 into the tournament. He plays at a high strike rate and is also very consistent in doing so. His shot selection is an example of cricketing excellence. An average of 58 with a strike rate of 178 in the newest format of the game will excite every RR fan. The player can also be a part-time option in the spin department and provide the balance, the team will be searching in terms of using their 4 foreign players.
Shamsi: No.1 T20I Bowler
RR signed Tabraiz Shamsi as one of the foreign players and can turn out to be one of the best strategic decisions going into the tournament. Shamsi has been economical and a consistent wicket-taker in the last few series for South Africa. An outstanding performance against the mighty West Indies, having an economy of four per over in a five-match series where the batsmen were striking as follows, F.Allen at 197, E. Lewis at 160, A.Russel at 151, and K.Pollard at 143, goes to show how he has been able to restrict the flow of runs against the best of attacking batsman. With Archer missing, Shamsi can be the one to provide them with the much-needed breakthroughs.
RR had been struggling with their foreign group of players due to injury concerns or other personal reasons. There was a time in the current season where they had only four foreign players in Buttler, Morris, Mustafizur, and Miller. RR has signed the likes of Shamsi, Oshane Thomas, and Evin Lewis.
The West Indies opener had a fantastic CPL 2021 and was the second-highest run-getter with 426 runs striking at 163. The injury concerns are not yet over as Lewis injured his shoulder yesterday in the final of the CPL. There is no official update on his availability. RR will be hoping that they get the services of all the foreign players they have signed as they lack an Indian superstar in their side apart from their captain. They will need the foreign group of Shamsi, Morris, Livingstone, Lewis, Miller to play along with the talented Indian players and take RR to the knockouts.