Rajasthan Royals (RR) are team that always tend to fly under the radar. In fact, they are a team that go unnoticed on multiple occasions. In 2018, when they returned after a two-year ban like the Chennai Super Kings (CSK), there was hardly anyone who spoke about them. Their return wasn’t as celebrated as CSK’s. However, they try to let their performance do the talking.
Before 2018, they were one team that didn’t really invest in the big players and looked to make the best with whatever they had. But everything has changed since they returned after missing the 2016 and 2017 seasons. They are not shy to spend big and don’t mind on going all out for certain players.
After winning the IPL title in 2008, RR had a poor run across four or five seasons before they started to pick up some pace again in 2013 to 2015 where they finished third in 2018, fifth in 2014 and fourth in 2015. In 2018, when they returned, they finished fourth. However, last season wasn’t the best as they just avoided the wooden spoon.
Hence, RR bought 11 players in the auction for the 2020 season and a couple of exciting youngsters along with some experience. RR’s batting seems to be in good shape and they will need to step up this season. No RR player has ever won the Orange Cap in the history of the IPL. Hence, they will want to change that quickly. Thus, here are three players who can win the Orange Cap for RR this season.
One of the reasons the England players started coming to the IPL in the last few years was after Jos Buttler’s feedback. The England wicket-keeper batsman revealed that he became a better player after playing the IPL. The Indian T20 league played a big part in developing his game and skills.
It was back in 2016 that Buttler made his IPL debut. He was with the Mumbai Indians (MI) for a couple of years before moving to RR in 2018. And all of Buttler’s success in the IPL has come at the top of the order. He has been destructive while opening the batting and the numbers back that up as well. He averages 45.95 and has a strike-rate of 157.95 in the 24 (out of 45) innings that he has opened in the IPL.
Even when he was with MI, the England wicket-keeper batsman didn’t open in his debut season. He scored 255 runs at an average of 23.18 and at a strike-rate of 138.59. In 2017, he started opening and there was a difference.
He had a strike-rate of 153.67 as he amassed 272 runs in 10 games. In 2018, when he moved to RR, Buttler played the first seven games in the middle-order.
However, the switch to the top worked wonders as he followed up with five back to back half-centuries finishing the season with 548 runs. In 2019, he made 311 runs in eight innings and everything came while opening the innings.
Over the last couple of seasons, he has had to leave early which affected RR big time. However, this time, barring the initial couple of games, Buttler will be available throughout the tournament. Thus, Buttler could be a big threat this time around as well. He could well be a contender for the Orange Cap.
Steve Smith may be the best Test player in the world at the moment but he hasn’t really come into his own in the shorter formats, especially in T20 cricket. However, he seems to be striving hard to excel and getting better in the shortest format.
Since his return to international cricket in 2019, Smith has scored 250 runs at an average of 83.33 and at a strike-rate of 147.92. His lowest score in the six innings that he played was 13 and that was the only time he was dismissed under 25.
The former Australian skipper even played a few Big Bash games this season and made 120 runs at an average of 40.00 and at a strike-rate of 151.89.
Hence, Smith will be out to carry this form forward and continue his improving T20 record. He has a decent IPL record as well. He has amassed 2022 runs at an average of 37.44. Barring 2015, Smith’s average in a season has never been under 36. However, he has had a problem of converting starts and he will want to correct that. Smith has been in top form and he will be hoping to lead RR from the front. He could well compete for the Orange Cap as well if he continues his good form.
Year after year, season after season, Sanju Samson turns up and produces one or two special innings in the IPL. He makes the world sit up and take notice. However, consistency is a big issue. He looks good almost every time but somehow finds ways to throw it away.
He is a rated very highly in the Indian domestic circuit and is one of India’s fringe players as well. In fact, he even made a comeback to the T20I side earlier this year but again, flattered to deceive and couldn’t really make it count. Samson has got better over the years in the IPL. Over the last three years, he has scored 340+ runs every season and has had a strike-rate of more than 135.
Thus, this year could be the year of Samson. He was in good nick in the domestic season in 2019-20. If he could get a little more consistency in his game, Samson could dominate the IPL. With Ajinkya Rahane being traded, Samson could get the opportunity to open the innings or bat at No. 3 where he has had most of his success in the IPL.