After finishing in the bottom two for the last couple of seasons, Rajasthan Royals are looking a much better outfit this time around for winning the trophy. The team that is mostly considered underdogs have looked to strengthen their batting unit at the mega-auction and will hope for it to deliver.
While Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings have been the most successful teams in the IPL, the first one to achieve a milestone is always remembered. Thus, Rajasthan Royals will always be remembered as the winners of the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2008. After winning the opening season of the tournament the result has steadily declined. Their best finish since 2008 came in 2013 when they were placed third in the group standings.
14 years after their title win, RR can once again pose a challenge to other teams for the trophy. The team is looking strong enough to make a run for the playoffs this season. Ahead of the mega auction, they had retained a strong batting core of Sanju Samson, Jos Buttler and Yashasvi Jaiswal. This intern meant that the key focus area at the auction was always going to the bowlers. And the think tank did just that by delivering the likes of Prasidh Krishna and Trent Boult. But it was not just the bowlers that RR splashed the cash for as Devdutt Padikkal and Shimron Hetmyer were also roped in for significant amounts.
With the team he has got, Samson will hope to replicate the success achieved only by the late great Shane Warne.
Let us have a look at Rajasthan Royals full squad for IPL 2022
Sanju Samson, Jos Buttler, Yashasvi Jaiswal (R), R Ashwin, Trent Boult, Shimron Hetmyer, Devdutt Padikkal, Prasidh Krishna, Yuzvendra Chahal, Riyan Parag, KC Cariappa, Navdeep Saini, Obed McCoy, Arunay Singh, Kuldeep Sen, Karun Nair, Dhruv Jurel, Tejas Baroka, Kuldeep Yadav, Shubham Garhwal, James Neesham, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Rassie Van Der Dussen, Daryl Mitchell
Solid opening pair
RR is in the envious spot of facing a selection headache with three brilliant openers at their disposal. While Yashasvi Jaiswal has scored 289 runs from 13 innings at 22.2 and a strike rate of 136.3, Jos Buttler has 1968 runs under his belt at an average of 35.1 and a strike rate of 150 in the IPL. The latter’s exploits in power play are well known along with his attacking intent. He has amassed 855 runs from 45 innings with a strike rate of 149 while batting inside the first six overs. While Padikkal was exceptional for RCB last season averaging a cool 31.61 accumulating 411 runs, Jaiswal will likely get the nod but will have to do well to keep his spot.
A strong middle-order
The combination of Number 3, 4 and 5 looks absolutely terrific, at least, on paper. As the team shelled out a combined 16 crore for Padikkal and Hetmyer, they will expect consistent runs and match-winning performances from the two. The left-handed batsman from Karnataka made his debut in 2020 against Sunrisers Hyderabad and has amassed 884 runs from 29 innings at 31.6 in the IPL so far.
At No. 4, Sanju Samson is the best option available as he is well suited to play the anchor’s role and can also attack the bowlers according to the situation as well. Samson has scored 2355 runs from 84 innings at 31.8 and a strike rate of 134.6 while batting in the middle-order (3,4,5) in the IPL. Also, with quality batters around him he will have the freedom to express himself and steer the run-rate. For No. 5, RR have the West Indian power-hitter Shimron Hetmyer, who played an important role for Delhi Capitals last season scoring 242 runs from 12 innings at a massive strike rate of 168.1. Coming down the order, at No.5, the Windies star has a strike rate of 152 which can help RR deep into the innings.
The Royals have plenty of back-up players in case any batsman in unavailable during the season. Karun Nair, Rassie Van Der Dussen, Daryl Mitchell can certainly step into the playing XI when the need arises.
Lower-order lacks a solid finisher
The team have a balanced batting unit as far as the top and middle order is concerned. However, as we go down the ranks, they might lack a reliable power-hitter in death overs. Riyan Parag has 23 IPL innings to his name but he has yet to prove his worth in the cash-rich league as his strike rate of 118.5 is too low in a hard hitting IPL. Nathan Coulter-Nile, 81 runs from 15 innings, and R Ashwin, with a strike rate of 109.9, don’t fare any better. While the Royals can also hand James Neesham a chance to play the role, it is more likely that all eyes would be on Hetmyer to excel down the order.
A versatile bowling line-up
Just like Mumbai Indians have a dream pace duo in the form of Jasprit Bumrah and Jofra Archer, RR’s dream spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal stand tall as well. The pair can trouble the batsmen with their versatile bowling styles and can be mightily effective against a left-right combination. Ashwin has scalped 145 wickets at an economy of 6.91 in the IPL while Chahal has claimed 139 wickets at an economy of 7.58.
But it is not just the spin bowling unit that RR will depend on this season. The acquisitions of Trent Boult and Prasidh Krishna will certainly help them get a leg up in the powerplay with the Kiwi in particular possessing the knack of picking wickets in the first six overs. Boult has an impressive 30 dismissals to his name with an economy of 7.14 while bowling in the first powerplay and was an instrumental part in Mumbai’s title winning squad. Krishna has been a much improved bowler now-a-days and he can trouble the batsman with pace at any stage of the innings. He has scalped 30 wickets in the IPL at an economy of 9.25.
The fifth bowling option for the team will be Nathan Coulter-Nile who has a decent IPL record. The Aussie has picked 48 wickets from 37 innings with an economy of 7.52. RR also have the option of using the young Riyan Parag in case the wicket offers more help to the slower bowlers.