IPL 2015 saw Rajasthan Royals begin in the best manner possible. The absence of regular skipper Shane Watson due to injury forced Steven Smith to be the makeshift captain. The start was a fairy tale as they remained unbeaten in their first five encounters. A super over defeat at the hands of KXIP further dented the team’s confidence. As the Royals huffed and puffed, they managed to make it to the playoffs before eventually bowing out to RCB in the knockout stage.
The positives to come out of IPL 2015 for Rajasthan Royals
IPL 2015 was a mixed bag for RR. The rock solid Ajinkya Rahane showed that T20 is just not all about the big dashers and muscling the bowling to all parts of the park as he led the batting charts. Deepak Hooda promises to be an interesting prospect. His hitting abilities are just the thrust needed in the middle order of the Royals. Sanju Samson is coming up the ranks fairly quickly. Chris Morris has been decent with the ball in this season picking 13 wickets from 11 matches at an economy of 7.4 including a 4 wicket haul.
Areas of Concerns
The first few victories may have masked the weakness of the team but Rajasthan Royals had much to sort out as the tournament progressed. Stuart Binny with his continued failures has become a liability. Chris Morris getting promoted in the batting order ahead of Stuart Binny is a clear reflection of Binny’s lacklustre performances
Players like Karun Nair, James Faulkner failed to make it count at the business end of the IPL. The team relies heavily on the Australian to bowl in the death overs and be the big finisher with the bat. The 42 year old Pravin Tambe too was not as his best this year managing to get only 7 wickets in 10 matches. There rises a lingering feeling that we might have just seen the end of the leggie.
What RR needs to do to address the concerns
The team needs to invest a bit more in its bowling and include more quality in its pace attack. A couple of all rounders like Faulkner, Binny may lend more dexterity to the attack but they are no match for an out and out fast bowler. Good bowling units like KKR and SRH have the greats Wasim Akram and Muttiah Muralitharan imparting their wisdom to the bowlers. However with RR’s financial constraints it is highly unlikely to see them appoint a bowling coach. Hence the need for a genuine world class bowler becomes all the more paramount. He can serve as the father figure to the bowling attack of the Royals.
The batting looks good with Ajinkya Rahane, Steve Smith and Shane Watson being the backbone of the batting order. Steve Smith is a mentally tough character and is the ideal candidate to lead RR in further editions of IPL. He is also the best candidate at one down in the batting order.
Shane Watson’s fitness has been a concern all throughout his career. Although he can roll his arm over to bowl a couple of over of medium pace, he can at best be a containing bowler. With the burden of captaincy relieved from Watson’s shoulder, it frees him to play his naturally aggressive game. Shane Watson should be viewed as a batsman who can bowl a bit and hence not mistaken for a genuine rounder.
James Faulkner needs to pick up his batting and be the power hitter of the team, failing which the franchise should look into adding an explosive batsman in its middle order. The team’s lack of power hitters was evident in the super over again KXIP as it took ages for them to decide on the batters to face the steaming Mitchell Johnson.
As it is likely that we may not see more of Pravin Tambe in further editions of IPL, it will be interesting to see who replaces him in the next edition.
The Rajasthan Royal’s Mantra
As Rahul Dravid mentions that RR might not be the first preferred franchise for most players but it is definitely their preferred choice as the second option. Rajasthan Royals believe in doing their job professionally without making a fuss. No one tells us the the philosophy of the Royals better than Harsha Bhogle. Here is a video why he likes RR so much.
There are certain restrictions when it comes to a franchise like the Royals. As Harsha Bhogle remarks Rajasthan Royals to be the Arsenal F.C. of the IPL, RR obviously has financial restrictions when it comes to choosing the big names from the international circuit. It is perhaps for this reason that one might not see Brendon McCullum or Yuvraj Singh or AB de Villiers or Mitchell Starc adorn the Royals blue.
But the team has more than made up for it. In the glitz and glam of IPL where most teams prefer to go for the already established national and International players, Rajasthan’s choice is a stark contrast. They been known to unearth the best domestic talents and bring them into the limelight. RR is known to pick traditional, uncapped, young as well as over aged players. One cannot possibly imagine a 40 year old uncapped leggie being picked by any other team besides Rajasthan.
RR have been known to judiciously pick its International Players as it makes it a point to pick players of strong character and resilience like Shane Warne, Graeme Smith, Steve Smith.
When it comes to mentorship, there is hardly a more perfect person than the former Rajasthan Royals skipper Rahul Dravid. His combination with Paddy Upton and Rahul Dravid provides the ideal environment for the players to grow into genuine match winners.
Let us see how this franchise performs in the future editions of IPL.