New Delhi, Sep 17 Rajasthan Royals, who had won the inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL) edition, have reconstructed their team and will be looking to step up their game, after a forgettable outing last year, in IPL 13 beginning Saturday.
The Royals had released as many as 11 players after they ended at the seventh spot last season. Ajinkya Rahane led them for half of the IPL 12 and Steve Smith was handed over the captaincy by the team management in the middle of the tournament.
However, the players forming the crux of the team Smith, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler, Shreyas Gopal, Varun Aaron, Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Riyan Parag, Shashank Singh, Mahipal Lomror, and Manan Vohra will be there when they begin their tournament campaign against Chennai Super Kings on September 22 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The franchise has brought in Shane Warne as their brand ambassador and mentor, which in turn could provide a lot of motivation to the players considering the fact that they had won their maiden IPL title under the legendary Australian leg-spinner's captaincy in 2008.
"This season I am looking forward to working as a team mentor and joining up with an excellent backroom staff in Zubin Bharucha and Andrew McDonald," Warne had said recently. "Hopefully, we can have a successful season and achieve big things in the coming months."
One of the biggest strengths of the Royals is having batsmen like Jos Buttler and Steve Smith. Buttler scored 311 runs in 11 matches at a phenomenal strike rate of 151.70 last year while Smith scored 319 runs. The team's batting will certainly revolve around these two. The franchise also has skilled batsmen in Sanju Samson and Robin Uthappa who have a good IPL record.
Besides, they also have Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer who both were instrumental in England's World Cup-winning campaign in 2019. Both are potential match-winners and team's biggest strengths, not to forget David Miller, who on his day can turn a match on its head. The Jaipur-based franchise will also have young batsman Yashasvi Jaiswal who has been in the news ever since the U-19 World Cup where India reached the finals.
One of the things which can go against the Royals is their inability to get their combination right, considering they have made many new additions. Uthappa's form of late hasn't been that great and another under-par performance could add pressure on the likes of Smith and Buttler.
The fast bowling department is heavily dependent on Archer for breakthroughs. The Barbados-born bowler could suffer from fatigue considering he has been playing consistently for England ever since international cricket resumed after the Covid-19 hiatus. Jaydev Unadkat, despite being criticised for his poor performances, has been able to keep his spot in the Royals and he would definitely feel the pressure to deliver. Also, not having a top-class spinner who could find purchase on the slow UAE wickets could go against the Royals.
Squad: Mahipal Lomror, Manan Vohra, Riyan Parag, Steve Smith (captain), Robin Uthappa (wicket-keeper), David Miller, Ankit Rajpoot, Mayank Markande, Jofra Archer, Shreyas Gopal, Varun Aaron, Jaydev Unadkat, Kartik Tyagi, Akash Singh, Oshane Thomas, Andrew Tye, Ben Stokes, Rahul Tewatia, Shashank Singh, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Anirudha Joshi, Tom Curran, Jos Buttler (wicket-keeper), Sanju Samson (wicket-keeper), Anuj Rawat
Support staff: Andrew McDonald (head coach), Amol Mazumdar (batting coach), Sairaj Bahutale (spin bowling coach), Ish Sodhi (spin consultant and operations executive), Rob Cassell (fast bowling coach), Steffan Jones (fast bowling consultant), Dishant Yagnik (fielding coach), John Gloster (physiotherapist)
( With inputs from IANS )
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