IPL 2018 Preview: Rajasthan Royals

Overview:

Two years can make a huge difference in professional sport. But one may not have predicted the ‘Moneyball’ team of the Indian Premier League shifting to a ‘Galacticos’ approach on their return.

Ajinkya Rahane

Rajasthan Royals were one of the big spenders at the auction in February. They picked up Ben Stokes and Jaydev Unadkat – the two most expensive players at the auction. In addition to them, they spent enormous money on all-rounder Jofra Archer and Indian wicketkeeper Sanju Samson. They also added Jos Buttler and D’Arcy short to their side – making it one of the most fearsome batting line-ups in the tournament. Apart from Unadkat, they used their RTM card on Dhawal Kulkarni and picked a value buy in Dushmanta Chameera. They have added Karnataka’s Shreyas Gopal and K. Goutham to their side as lead spinners.

Steve Smith’s absence is a big loss but he isn’t irreplaceable as captaincy was handed to a well-experienced Rahane. While it is quite the

While the hype around the return of the Rajasthan Royals doesn’t even come close to Chennai Super Kings’, it would be an incredible story if the inaugral IPL winners manage to double the tally with the star-studded team they have assembled.

Strength:

The First XI!

If Rajasthan Royals can go injury-free this season, there are no major obstacles that can stop them from winning the title. Rahul Tripati and Ajinkya Rahane were good for RPS last season, D’Arcy Short is in untested waters but the last Big Bash season showcased his calibre, Sanju Samson is coming at the back of a fantastic domestic season, and Stokes and Buttler are two of the best limited overs players presently in the world. As far as the bowling is concerned, Unadkat and Kulkarni are experienced campaigners, Jofra Archer is having a breakout season, the spin duo of K Goutham and Shreyas Gopal have had a good season with Karnataka.

Weakness:

As good as the first XI for the Royals is, they lack bench strength – especially in the pace department. While Ben Laughlin serves as an overseas seaming option, they do not have proven back-ups for Unadkat and Kulkarni. In case of an injury to either of the two, RR will have to tweak the batting order as well, considering Stokes, Buttler and Archer are indispensable from the XI.

Player to watch out for:

It is hard not pick anyone other than Ben Stokes as RR’s big player for this season. His off-field controversy may have impacted his price at the auction but he still received the highest bid. The all-rounder was the star for Rising Pune Supergiant last season, with his performances taking them through to the playoffs. He has not lit up the stage since his return to the England side post the Ashes snub but you wouldn’t back against him to come good this season.

Keep an eye on Jofra Archer as well. He had lit up the BBL with some stunning performances, and he certainly can set the stage on fire in the IPL

 

Predicted XI:

1) Rahul Tripathi

2) Ajinkya Rahane

3) D’Arcy Short

4) Sanju Samson

5) Ben Stokes

6) Jos Buttler

7) Jofra Archer

8) K Gowtham

9) Shreyas Gopal

10) Dhawan Kulkarni

11) Jaydev Unadkat

 

 

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