Rajasthan Royals (RR) will lock horns with Chennai Super Kings (CSK) to begin their proceedings in the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). The match is slated to take place in Sharjah on September 22.
Steve Smith was asked to take over the captaincy from Ajinkya Rahane mid-season in 2019 after the franchise lost six of their first eight games under the latter’s leadership. Later that year in November, Smith was named as a permanent skipper of the side.
The Royals made some daunting acquisitions in the IPL 2020 auction. They unhesitatingly went for the likes of Robin Uthappa, Andrew Tye and David Miller to add much-needed experience and depth to their squad. While acquiring young guns like Yashasvi Jaiswal and Tom Curran added a bit of flair and flamboyance in the team.
In a build-up to the much-awaited T20 extravaganza which begins within a week, let’s take a look at the ideal playing XI for the Royals.
Openers: Jos Buttler and Robin Uthappa
At the moment, there’s perhaps no match to Jos Buttler’s aggression and brutality at the top of the order. If there ever was a doubt regarding his viability as an opener, the right-hander has vanished away with a series of explosive knocks in the recently concluded limited-overs series against Pakistan and Australia.
Buttler’s rich vein of form will be a blessing for the Royals. He is most likely to be paired with Robin Uthappa at the top.
Other than Uthappa, RR has two additional options in the form of Manan Vohra and the newly-acquired Yashasvi Jaiswal. But the franchise is more likely to rely on the expertise of Uthappa than the other two.
Middle Order: Steve Smith, Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Riyan Parag
Steve Smith will be anchoring the innings at much important No.3 position. Surrounded by the hosts of explosive hitters, Smith’s main duty will be to hold the innings from one end in case of the batting unit’s collapse.
Sanju Samson will follow the skipper at his favourite No. 4 position. Samson made a terrific century against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) last year while batting at the same place. He would hope to continue his purple patch and boost his chances of making it to the national squad.
The aggressive duo of Ben Stokes and Riyan Parag, an 18-year-old teen from the state of Assam, will bat at No. 5 and No. 6 respectively. There’s some uncertainty looming over the inclusion of Stokes, who is currently with his ailing father in New Zealand.
South African hitter David Miller is likely to feature in Stokes’ absence.
Bowlers: Shreyas Gopal, Jofra Archer, Mayank Markande, Varun Aaron, Jayadev Unadkat
Shreyas Gopal is a terrific leg-spinner who can also play handy knocks down the order. He will be well assisted by another leggie, Mayank Markande.
Jofra Archer will be RR’s go-to man at all stages of the innings. He will be assisted by Jayadev Unadkat and Varun Aaron in the fast bowling department.
If all-rounder Stokes misses the initial phase of the tournament, they have got a worthy replacement in the form of Tom Curran, Oshane Thomas and Andrew Tye.
Here is RR’s ideal playing XI:
- Jos Buttler – Matches: 45; Runs:136; Average: 35.53; 50’s: 9
- Robin Uthappa – Matches: 177; Runs: 4411; Average: 28.83; 50’s: 24
- Steve Smith – Matches: 81; Runs: 2022; Average: 37.44; 100’s: 1; 50’s: 8
- Sanju Samson – Matches: 93; Runs: 2209; Average: 27.61; 100’s: 2; 50’s: 10
- Ben Stokes – Matches: 34; Runs: 635; Average: 22.67; 100’s: 1; 50’s: 1 Wickets: 26; Economy: 8.25
- Riyan Parag – Matches: 7; Runs: 160; Average: 32; 50’s: 1
- Shreyas Gopal – Matches: 31; Wickets: 38; Best: 4/16; Economy: 7.50
- Jofra Archer – Matches: 21; Wickets: 26; Best: 3/15; Economy: 7.52
- Mayank Markande – Matches: 17; Wickets: 16; Best: 4/23; Economy: 8. 54
- Varun Aaron – Matches: 47; Wickets: 42; Best: 3/16; Economy; 8.74
- Jaydev Unadkat – Matches: 73; Wickets: 77; Best: 5/25; Economy: 8. 73