Resurgent Royals aim to go all the way


Resurgent Royals aim to go all the way

Hariprasad Sadanandan


Rajasthan Royals, the first-ever IPL champions, enjoyed their best season since that triumph in 2022. Lot of the work was done at the 2022 auction table and despite not being entirely flawless, the team gelled well to overcome the minor flaws in squad composition.

The batting might of Jos Buttler and effectiveness of their spin twins Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravichandran Ashwin were the major talking points of Royals’ success last year. Their bowling unit in totality worked efficiently. While they seemed a genuine all-rounder short, the think tank’s tactical acumen coupled with Ashwin’s flexibility with bat and ball covered up for most of it.

While he had another middling season with the bat, Sanju Samson’s leadership was both calm and astute. Being back at their home base in Jaipur should only boost the Royals’ confidence. The surfaces at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium should suit their modus operandi with the large dimensions and generally sluggish tracks although dew could be a major factor in their strategies.

Where they finished last year: Second

What did they try to address in the mini-auction:

With a largely settled squad, the Royals didn’t have a lot of cash to splurge nor did they have too many holes to fill. The most obvious gap was that of a genuine all-rounder and in Jason Holder they have a capable option. They also bolstered their spin armory with the inclusion of Adam Zampa and Murugan Ashwin while Joe Root and Donovan Ferreira are budget picks. There were some value purchases among the domestic players too, notably KM Asif whose raw pace adds another dimension to the bowling options.

Squad: Sanju Samson (c), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shimron Hetmyer, Devdutt Padikkal, Jos Buttler, Dhruv Jurel, Riyan Parag, Prasidh Krishna, Trent Boult, Obed McCoy, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Sen, Kuldip Yadav, R Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, KC Cariappa, Jason Holder, Donovan Ferreira, Sandeep Sharma, Kunal Rathore, Adam Zampa, KM Asif, Murugan Ashwin, Akash Vashisht, Abdul P A, Joe Root

Player to watch: Riyan Parag

The last six to eight months have seen Riyan Parag in incredible form in domestic cricket as far as white-ball cricket goes. He had a hugely impactful season as he single-handedly carried Assam forward with his explosive style of play with the bat. The talent and attitude was never in doubt but the maturity was what was lacking for the 21-year-old. If he can translate his domestic form into the IPL, Parag looks set to have a breakout season.

Injuries and availability:

Royals are among the few teams who don’t have availability issues as far as their overseas players go. Prasidh Krishna being ruled out of the entire season to injury is a blow, but RR have roped in the experienced Sandeep Sharma in his place.

Possible XI and potential Impact Player tactic:

Yashasvi Jaiswal, Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson, Devdutt Padikkal, Riyan Parag, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder, Ravichandran Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Trent Boult, Sandeep Sharma/Navdeep Saini/Kuldeep Sen

RR have quite a few options to tinker with as far as the impact player goes. In the second half of the season, clubbing Murugan Ashwin or KC Cariappa along with the Chahal-Ashwin combo is a realistic option as the pitches start to tire. In the initial games, there could be a thought to strengthen the pace attack when needed with Obed McCoy being a workable option. This is where the form of Samson and Parag becomes critical, as they’d need to start with an overseas player less if they are to bring in a foreign option as the impact player.

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