IPL 2018 | Rahane, Smith or Faulkner? Who will Rajasthan Royals retain ahead of mega auction?

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IPL Media

IPL 2018 | Rahane, Smith or Faulkner? Who will Rajasthan Royals retain ahead of mega auction?

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Bastab K Parida

01/03/2018

Unlike Chennai, which had built a team of superstars, Royals followed exactly the opposite model by going for players who were not big names but who could potentially contribute better. With Rahul Dravid at the helm, they had planned things better, but they don’t have that luxury this time around.

The perennial underdog of the league was bestowed with some serious talents like Steve Smith, Ajinkya Rahane, Ankit Sharma, Dhawal Kulkarni, Rajat Bhatia, and Karun Nair. However, in 2015, when the team was banned, the lack of big names meant, apart from Rahane and Smith, most players were spread across pre-existing teams. Not just players but the much fabled Rajasthan think-tank - Rahul Dravid and Paddy Upton - shifted to Delhi Daredevils which meant a fair few ended up there as well. 

On the other hand, Chennai had a lot of superstars in their team and so it was natural that most of Chennai’s players would go to the two new franchises, who not only got plenty of them in the pre-auction draft but also had budget left over to make bids for other players. That will now act in the favour of CSK, and the lack of it will leave RR with very few realistic options.

Who should they retain

Steve Smith

A phenomenal player and leader, Steve Smith is an automatic choice for the team. Although it remains to be seen, how much the franchise will be interested in him given the Australian skipper will come to the IPL after a rigorous season of Test cricket that will culminate with Australia visiting South Africa in March. While fatigue might be a factor, Smith has proved himself to be a supremely talented batsman and an amazing leader – just ask Rising Pune Supergiant who he led to the final last year after the team had finished in the penultimate position a year earlier. With the RR team being worst affected by the pre-season draft in 2016, they will have to secure the services of one big star first and Smith just might be the name that they are looking for.

Ajinkya Rahane

Bringing Rahane from Mumbai Indians to Rajasthan Royals was Rahul Dravid's decision and was executed to perfection by the franchise. Despite his problems with strike rotation in the middle overs and the apparent inability to play spinners well, Rahane can be a lethal opener in the shortest version of the game. In the away series against West Indies and Sri Lanka, the Mumbaikar confirmed that and was adjudged man of the match in both the series. Again, a franchise that looks forward to a bigger name as the star power, Rahane can give them the much-needed X-factor. He also offers a captain candidate to the returning franchise should they decide to go for an Indian icon. 

In all probability, they will not go for more than two players as that will cost them only Rs 21 crore and they will go to Bangalore for the auction with a purse of 59 crore to build the full team. 

The alternate opinion for RTM

In Australia's 2013 tour of India, James Faulkner announced himself as an international all-rounder of substance and in the IPL he quickly established himself as a huge hit as well. Then, though, he damaged his knee and eventually lost his place in the Australian side before making a comeback for the India series. However, there is a cynical opinion for his retention cause there is no way, the Aussie all-rounder will go above seven crores at the auction this year. Going by that, getting his services back through RTM card is a better option for the Jaipur-based franchise. Apart from Faulkner, they will not have any realistic chance of using the RTM card on any other player. If they further want, they may put that card on Madhya Pradesh all-rounder Ankit Sharma, who picked up 18 wickets in the Ranji Trophy

How logical is the policy:

Forget the logic. Rather sympathize with the sorry state that they find themselves in now. Their lack of long-term planning has hit them hard and they now know that they can't make the same mistakes again. Keeping Rahane and Smith will, at least, give them some bankable options, and that will allow them to build a team around them keeping an eye for the next five years or so. On the flip side, with a bigger purse available, the Jaipur-based franchise can well go for some reputed match-winners to uplift their sagging fortunes.

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