Rajasthan Royals (RR) experienced their worst-ever campaign in the Indian Premier League (IPL) last year in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Steve Smith-led side finished at the bottom of the standing after managing only six wins from 14 games.
Ahead of IPL 2021, Royals made a few changes to their squad, including Smith’s release from the outfit. For the fourteenth season, the RR management decided to hand over the captaincy responsibility to Sanju Samson.
The Jaipur-based franchise entered the players’ auction with one of the biggest purses and made the best use by roping in Chris Morris for a whopping INR 16.25 Crore. RR also bought the likes of Shivam Dube in the squad to make a strong domestic core.
As the 2021 edition of the lucrative league is just around the corner, let’s have a look at the ideal playing XI for Royals in IPL 2021:
Openers: Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson
Unlike the previous season, the Royals would look to open the innings with two power-hitters in the team, i.e. Jos Buttler and skipper Samson. Both the batters are known for changing the game from the word go and can be dangerous if they open the innings.
The pair can utilise the fielding restrictions in the best possible manner. Last year, Samson scored 375 runs from 14 matches, including three half-centuries. On the other hand, Buttler amassed 328 runs from 13 games with two fifties to his name.
Middle-order: Ben Stokes, Riyan Parag
Ben Stokes was asked to open the innings last year, but the move did not work as the Royals missed him in the slog overs, especially while chasing the targets. However, for the upcoming edition, RR have included some quality all-rounders who can do the job in the lower-order. This would further inspire Royals to use Stokes in the middle-order as the English cricketer is pretty good at rotating the strikes and building partnerships. Apart from Stokes, young Riyan Parag can be promoted up the order as he was not used nicely during IPL 2020.
All-rounders: Rahul Tewatia, Shivam Dube, Chris Morris
For the all-rounders, RR have included the likes of Morris and Dube as Rahul Tewatia is already in the line-up, which makes the combination even better. Tewatia was the biggest star and found for Royals in IPL 2020. He managed to score 255 runs from 14 matches and picked up 10 wickets as well.
Similarly, Morris also had a decent season while playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) last year. The South African talent bagged 11 scalps from 9 games. Dube, however, did not have a pleasing time in IPL 2020, but he will look to start fresh in the new franchise.
Bowlers: Andrew Tye, Jaydev Undadkat, Shreyas Gopal, Kartik Tyagi
England paceman Jofra Archer is a natural first choice for the Royals, but unfortunately, he injured his elbow during the recently concluded white-ball series against India. Archer shall therefore miss a portion of this year’s tournament.
In the absence of the Bridgetown-lad, veteran Australian medium-pacer Andrew Tye will lead the bowling attack for RR. Tye only played one fixture in IPL 2020, but his overall numbers and experience of death bowling will surely help the Royals.
Apart from Tye, senior India speedster Jaydev Unadkat and young star Kartik Tyagi will handle the pace department. Unadkat picked up four wickets in the last season while Tyagi earned nine scalps. The responsibility of spin will be given to Shreyas Gopal, who enjoyed a fruitful outing in the previous season. Gopal appeared in 14 games and went on to take 10 wickets in IPL 2020.
Here is Rajasthan Royals’ ideal playing XI:
- Jos Buttler – Matches: 58; Runs: 1714; Strike-rate: 149.56; 50’s: 11
- Sanju Samson – Matches: 107; Runs: 2584; Strike-rate: 133.74; 100’s: 2; 50’s: 13
- Ben Stokes – Matches: 42; Runs: 920; Strike-rate: 135.09; Wickets: 28; Economy: 8.52
- Riyan Parag – Matches: 19; Runs: 246; Strike-rate: 121.18; 50’s: 1
- Rahul Tewatia – Matches: 34; Runs: 366; Strike-rate: 134.55; Wickets: 24; Economy: 7.13
- Shivam Dube – Matches: 15; Runs: 169; Strike-rate: 142.46; Wickets: 4; Economy: 7.59
- Chris Morris – Matches: 70; Runs: 551; Strike-rate: 157.87; Wickets: 80; Economy: 7.81
- Andrew Tye – Matches: 27; Wickets: 40; Best: 5/17; Economy: 8.46
- Shreyas Gopal – Matches: 45; Wickets: 48; Best: 4/16; Economy: 7.85
- Jaydev Unadkat – Matches: 80; Wickets: 81; Best: 5/25; Economy: 8.83
- Kartik Tyagi – Matches: 10; Wickets: 9; Best: 2/36; Economy: 9.61