IPL 2021: RR vs DC Game Plan – The Opening Dilemma for the Rajasthan Royals

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The seventh match of the IPL 2021 tournament between the blockbuster teams, Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Capitals could be all about match-ups. Here, we take a look at a key game plan that could play a role in the seventh game of IPL 2021 – RR vs DC.

RR vs DC – The Top-order Void

Ben Stokes was set to play an integral role for the Rajasthan Royals this year. Given RR would be playing 10 of their 14 league matches on batting-friendly pitches, Stokes the opener would have added massive value at the top of the order. He’s one of those batsmen who is adept against pace bowling and as an LHB, he can take down leg-spinners and left-arm finger-spinners too. Now that he’s ruled out of the season, RR have a vacant spot at the top of the order.

RR schedule: 

  • 5 matches at Mumbai (batting-friendly)
  • 4 matches at Delhi
  • 3 matches at Kolkata (batting-friendly)
  • 2 matches at Bangalore (batting-friendly)

RR have quite a few options to fill that void – Jos Buttler, Liam Livingstone among the overseas recruits (maybe even David Miller!) as well as the less experienced domestic lads like Yashasvi Jaiswal and Anuj Rawat.

RR vs DC – Jos Buttler slots back in?

The easiest fix would be to slot Jos Buttler back at the top of the order. He is an absolute gun while opening the batting in T20 cricket. In the IPL, he’s scored over a 1000 runs as opener, while averaging 41 and striking at 157. Also he loves batting at the Wankhede Stadium (who wouldn’t?) with scores of 33(21), 94*(53) and 89(43) in his last three IPL innings there.

However, playing Buttler at the top results in opening with two right-handers (assuming Manan Vohra will continue opening), and Buttler’s record vs leg-spin isn’t that great. He’s been dismissed by leg-spin 9 times and averages 22, striking at just 128. Buttler in the past couple of years, has improved his game vs spin but is not yet in the top bracket of RHBs who are elite vs leg-spin.

Furthermore, promoting him back to the top leaves the lower middle-order quite inexperienced. It might force Samson to play down the order (a role which he is potentially capable of mastering) to give more cushion to the younger players, which also allows a left-hander to play at one-drop for matchups.

The fourth overseas player, in this case, can be Liam Livingstone playing at No.5 or No.6. It is a largely pace-hitting role that is more based off his strengths and potential and less number-based. Livingstone has a solid base, is adept against high pace and does not have any pronounced issues against hard lengths.

RR vs DC – Potential Batting Order for Rajasthan: Jos Buttler, Manan Vohra, Mahipal Lomror/Anuj Rawat/Shivam Dube, Sanju Samson, Liam Livingstone, Riyan Parag

RR vs DC – Liam Livingstone at the top?

Liam Livingstone is also capable of opening the batting and giving quickfire starts. He ended the previous BBL as the 7th highest run-scorer. As an opener in all T20s, he strikes at 145 while maintaining an average a shade under 30.

A glimpse of his batting prowess here:

Livingstone at the top would, however, make the top-four all right-handers (Vohra, Samson, Buttler), so once again the batting order would need a rejig or another LHB would have to replace Vohra to maintain left-right combinations. Anuj Rawat and Yashasvi Jaiswal are Indian left-handers who can play at the top; of these two, Rawat is the more attacking one.