Rajasthan Royals have always been there and thereabouts when it comes to the Indian Premier League. RR had an auction performance similar in vein as they went for Indian players to boost their starting XI; both experienced and young ones were welcomed.
Rajasthan had already made an interesting move by trading Ajinkya Rahane for the duo of Rahul Tewatia and Mayank Markande from Delhi Capitals. This meant that the team needed some back up openers while there was also need for depth in Indian fast bowling reserves.
These issues were solved by acquiring players like Robin Uthappa, Yashashvi Jaiswal, Jaydev Unadkat, Akash Singh and Kartik Tyagi. The inaugural IPL Champions also signed David Miller, Tom Curran, Oshane Thomas, Andrew Tye, Aniruddha Joshi and Anuj Rawat to to along with the already mentioned names.
With as many as 11 new faces in the RR squad, there are definitely going to be some interesting permutations and combinations while deciding upon the eventual starting line-up. However, let’s make our best effort to predict RR playing XI.
Rajasthan Royals (RR) IPL 2020 Predicted Playing XI
Jos Buttler, Yashashvi Jaiswal /Robin Uthappa, Steve Smith (C), Sanju Samson (WK), Ben Stokes, Riyan Parag, Shreyas Gopal, Jofra Archer, Rahul Tewatia/ Mayank Markande, Jaydev Unadkat, Varun Aaron / Ankit Rajpoot.
One of the best wicket-keeper batsmen in limited overs cricket, Jos Buttler will continue to occupy his favourite opening spot. Buttler has been really successful as opener in the past two seasons and the Englishman fared really well in the last season too. In just 8 matches, Buttler managed to score 311 runs. His aggressive starts would be vital for RR as it sets the tone for the rest of the inning.
Robin Uthappa / Yashashvi Jaiswal
The other opener’s spot could be up for grabs as either Robin Uthappa or Yashashvi Jaiswal could partner Jos Buttler at the top. It might all come down to form in the lead up to the tournament rather than IPL experience as Jaiswal’s talent can’t be overlooked.
Robin Uthappa, will also be a fantastic option regardless of his performances in IPL 2019 as he was a mainstay in the KKR set-up for a number of years. Apart from winning the Orange Cup in 2014, Uthappa was a consistent performer for KKR while the young Jaiswal impressed in the Vijay Hazare Trophy when he made the headlines for a terrific double hundred against a Jharkhand bowling line up that included team mate Varun Aaron, Shahbaz Nadeem and Anukul Roy.
Skipper Steve Smith will take up the important No.3 position in the batting line-up. It is in both Smith and the team’s best interests that he should bat at No. 3 as his game is more suited to playing through the 20 overs. If Smith can hold one end, it gives freedom for the likes of Buttler and Stokes to express himself.
Although Smith had a decent 2019 IPL season, his strike-rate of 116.00 amongst the other RR batsmen and this only gives more reason for Smith to bat at No.3 in the RR XI.
Sanju Samson, one of Rajasthan Royals’ mainstay for a number of years will be a crucial cog in the team’s middle-order. Although he has not been able to break into the Indian team’s line-up, the 25-year-old Keralite has been in really good form for his state side in all formats of the game.
Samson also had a fruitful 2019 IPL campaign which even included a century against Sunrisers Hyderabad. If he can put in good performances next season too, Samson will both help RR and also himself in terms of getting into the Indian team’s playing XI for the T20 World Cup in Australia.
England’s MVP Ben Stokes will come into the 2020 IPL season with a lot of expectations following a whirlwind 2019 cricketing year which saw some stunning performances in the ICC World Cup and also the Ashes series that followed.
While Stokes did bag the IPL MVP award in 2017, his performances in the last two seasons haven’t been good enough. RR would badly need him to score some runs as the team’s batting depth isn’t great.
One of the finds of the 2019 IPL season, Assam’s Riyan Parag played with a level of maturity that belief his tender age of 17 (Age during the IPL). The youngster showed that he possesses enough cricketing brain to mix his game with running between the wickets and boundaries in equal measure.
The 18-year-old is also useful with his part-time spin bowling and that gives an option to Steve Smith’s bowling plans. With him regularly being an one-man army for Assam in domestic cricket, IPL 2020 could very well be a breakthrough season for him.
ALSO READ on 5 Rajasthan Royals players to watch out in IPL 2020 here
An underrated member in not just the Rajasthan Royals team but the entire IPL, Karnataka all-rounder Shreyas Gopal has been very impressive for his current franchise. In the last two seasons, he has picked up 31 wickets in 25 matches while not conceding many runs too. It is his hard-to-pick googly that gets the better of most batsmen in the tournament and it doesn’t seem like his variations will be picked any time soon.
Further, Gopal’s batting can also be very useful lower down the order as he has a solid technique which can come in handy during a crisis. One can perhaps say that Gopal has been unlucky to not play for the Indian team despite his superb performances in the IPL.
One of the most popular T20 cricketers in the world, Jofra Archer’s life has taken an amazing turn in the last 12 months. By the beginning of 2019, everyone knew Archer due to his exploits in the T20 leagues around the world. However, it was England fast-tracking him into their national team set-up which then resulted in the Barbadian playing a pivotal role in the country’s first ever World Cup win that made Archer as one of the game’s global superstars. He then went onto make his debut and impress in his first ever Ashes series.
Before all this, Archer registered a second successful IPL season wherein he picked up 11 wickets at an economy rate of 6.76. Possessed with a lethal bouncer and yorker apart from his usual hard lengths, Archer will remain a threat for batsmen next year in the IPL. Meanwhile, while his batting cannot be criticised, RR will hope he can put away his thin returns in the last few months to add a few vital runs at the end.
Rahul Tewatia/ Mayank Markande
Another spot which could be up for grabs is the second spinner’s role in the team. It would be interesting to see if RR prefer the batting ability of Rahul Tewatia or Mayank Markande’s better skills as a leg-spinner.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Markande had an adventurous journey to the RR set-up. After being initially being part of a trade between Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals, the latter once again traded him to get Ajinkya Rahane from Rajasthan Royals. This followed a 2019 IPL season where Rahul Chahar displaced Markande as Mumbai’s premier spinner.
Just like. Markande, Tewatia also found it tough to get games last season while playing for Delhi Capitals and this will make the duo hungry for success next year.
The association between Rajasthan Royals and Jaydev Unadkat seems to be unstoppable one as the left-arm seamer will play for the same franchise once again. Even though Unadkat hasn’t been able to justify his huge price tags in the last two seasons, RR placed their faith on the experienced campaigner for the third season running.
Representing RR, Unadkat has only picked up 21 wickets in 26 matches with an economy rate around 10 runs per over. As a result, next season could be a make or break one for Unadkat and he would hope to bring in his Rising Pune Supergiant form to the table once again.
Varun Aaron/ Ankit Rajpoot
The last pick in the team will be either Varun Aaron or Ankit Rajpoot. While Aaron was expensive in the five games he played last season, Rajpoot is a new face in the Rajasthan Royals outfit. Playing for Kings XI Punjab in the last two seasons, Rajpoot had mixed returns with 14 wickets from 12 matches at a high economy rate. However, with the UP seamer in really good form in domestic cricket, it wouldn’t be a major surprise if Varun Aaron misses out from the RR XI.