After finishing last in a very tight battle last year at the United Arab Emirates, Rajasthan Royals will be looking to stage a comeback and make the playoffs at least in this year’s Indian Premier League, which is starting on April 9 in Chennai.
The Royals have taken some bold calls and have released long-time server and former captain Steve Smith and have appointed Sanju Samson as their leader for the 2021 season and will be hoping for a change of fortunes this time around.
The Royals have actively recruited in the off-season and picked up some handy players from the IPL 2021 auction including the likes of Shivam Dube for INR 4.40 crore and the mega-expensive Chris Morris, who returned to the Royals for a whopping INR 16.25 crore. Apart from the above two, RR also bought Mustafizur Rahman (INR 1.00 crore), Chetan Sakariya (INR 1.20 crore), KC Cariappa (INR 0.20 crore), Liam Livingstone (INR 75 lakh), Kuldip Yadav (INR 20 lakh) and Akash Singh (INR 20 lakh).
They have however been dealt with a blow before even the tournament as England’s Jofra Archer has been ruled out for the initial stages of the tournament. But they’d be hoping that Morris makes up for Archer’s absence while the likes of Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and captain Samson scores the runs with the bat.
Stokes, Buttler and Samson will be the key players for RR and are the most likely people to take the franchise to the last four along with Archer. The quartet forms the backbone of the team and will play a major role behind RR’s IPL 2021 fortunes.
Buttler has performed for Rajasthan before and remains a dangerous player with the bat when on song. In IPL 2020, he had a mellow season as he only managed to score 328 runs from 13 games at an average of 32.80 but his strike-rate was right up there at 144.49. The wicketkeeper-batsman looked in good touch for England when he hit two fifties in the five-match T20I series against India and he would be hoping to carry the form in the pink and blue of Rajasthan. Stokes, on the other hand, played only eight games last season and managed to score 285 runs at an average of 40.71, which included a century and a fifty as well. Stokes looked in fine touch with the bat in the ODI series as well, where he slammed a match-winning 99 in the second ODI and a 35 in the last game.
Other than the above two, Samson, who has always impressed but never quite hit it out of the park, will have the chance to show everyone that he is the real deal and can claim a place in India’s World T20 squad with a good showing in the tournament. Samson scored 375 in 14 matches last season and he could well better his tally this year but will have to shake off the bad form he has been in.
Rajasthan would also hope Archer returns to fitness and plays some part as he is one of the most dangerous bowlers in world cricket. Last year, he picked up 20 wickets from 14 matches and he could do the same this year as well.
RR will play their first game of the season against Punjab Kings on April 12 at the Wankhede Stadium.
RAJASTHAN ROYALS FULL SQUAD FOR IPL 2021: Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler, Riyan Parag, Shreyas Gopal, Rahul Tewatia, Mahipal Lomror, Kartik Tyagi, Andrew Tye, Jaydev Unadkat, Mayank Markande, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Anuj Rawat, David Miller, Manan Vohra, Shivam Dube, Chris Morris, Mustafizur Rahman, Chetan Sakariya, KC Cariappa, Liam Livingstone, Kuldip Yadav, Akash Singh