Rajasthan Royals gained momentum in the second half of the 2018 Indian Premier League (IPL) and progressed to the knockout stages but failed to qualify for the final. However, they will aim to hit the strides right from the start of IPL 2019 and will be keen to bring home their second title. Rajasthan Royals won the cash-rich league in the first year in 2008.
The Ajinkya Rahane-led side have some quality players in their ranks who can turn the heat on any given day. Meanwhile, they need to strike a balance in combination as soon as possible. Rajasthan will start their campaign against Kings XI Punjab on March 25 at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium.
Rajasthan Royals boast one of the most varied overseas cricketers among all the franchise. They have Jos Buttler, Steven Smith, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and the new sensation Ashton Turner in their ranks who can win matches on their own in any given day. The inclusion of Smith in the side will be a massive boost for the team. Although he is returning from an injury but once the former Aussie skipper finds his touch, he can destroy any bowling attack. Besides, skipper Ajinkya Rahane will hope to pick his brains in crucial junctures.
England wicket-keeper Jos Buttler’s presence at the top-order will keep the opponent bowlers in their toes. He has shown his devastating capabilities in the last IPL and will be keen to start exactly from where he left. Along with them, they have some quality Indian batsman to rotate around the foreigners. The likes of Rahul Tripathy and Rahane are seasoned campaigner and knows how to tackle situations.
Ben Stokes in the middle-order is the best option one team can ask for. An all-rounder in its purest form, Stokes can do everything in a cricket field. From finishing games to winning matches by his sheer swing and accuracy, the English all-rounder is not less than anybody. Stokes attracted a hefty price tag and will be desperate to live up to the expectation.
In the bowling front, they have the likes of Jofra Archer and Jaydev Unadkat – who have enough experiences in this format. Archer has grabbed eyeballs playing around the globe and hopes to make use of the opportunity ahead of the World Cup.
Rajasthan Royals lacks consistency in the bowling department which can hurt them badly in this kind of tournament. Although they have Unadkat, Varun Aaron, and Oshane Thomas, they are yet to show consistency at the highest level. Aaron and Thomas have express pace as their weapon but lacks variation which will have the Royals skipper thinking.
Moreover, with overseas players leaving for the World Cup in the first week of May, Rajasthan will lack experience in their playing XI. They lack quality domestic players in their ranks who can deliver in pressure situations.
The spin department also lacks experience behind their back which can hurt the Royals side. Although they have New Zealand spinner Ish Sodhi in their ranks, it is unlikely that they will want to dry up one overseas quota playing Sodhi in the first XI.
The upcoming IPL 2019 will be a perfect opportunity for the spin duo of Krishnappa Gowtham and Shreyas Gopal to establish their mettle in the big stage. They did impress in the first season last year and will look to continue on the good work for their side.
The tournament can also be a breeding ground for overseas cricketers like Liam Livingstone, Ashton Turner and Thomas. They will be desperate to make use of the chances and present their cases to the respective national selectors. Besides, domestic cricketers like Prashant Chopra and Mahipal Lomror will also look to make a mark.
Rajasthan Royals’ skipper Ajinkya Rahane has not been in the best of form for quite some time now. After performing relatively well for India A, Rahane had an abysmal Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy – the premium domestic T20 competition.
Furthermore, Steven Smith has not played top-class cricket for quite some time and may take some time to find his touch. Otherwise, the team looks good and will aim to stay injury free and go all the way for glory.
Predicted XI: Jos Buttler, Rahul Tripathy, Ajinkya Rahane, Steven Smith, Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Shreyas Gopal, Krishnappa Gowtham, Jofra Archer, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jaydev Unadkat
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