Joining back IPL this season after 2 years, the group called Rajasthan Royals has not made much fuss as it’s accompanying counterpart, CSK. If you look at their team, apart from few faces, rest is a wholly new lot of players. With Smith’s ban and captaincy going to RR’s own lad, Ajinkya Rahane, there’s another guy who’ll be gaining his spot and a lot of exposure to world’s biggest T20 league, Heinrich Klaasen. Though people like me who got little desolate with his timing to put up a show right after IPL auctions got over during India’s tour to South Africa, where he impressed and got people like me longing to see him play in IPL, he showcased his hitting abilities along with keeping a calm demeanour and composure. He, in my sense of understanding will be a key player for RR because of his capability of scoring all around the park like ABD and going after good quality spin bowlers, a glimpse of which he showed when he smacked Chahal, gifting him up a night to remember, where he ended up with his worst bowling figures of 64 in 4 overs. I don’t think RR will miss Smith too much with the inclusion of Klassen.
Looking at their team, I can say they, for most of the tournament, will not be playing with any foreign bowler apart from Jofra Archer, as it will be very tough to drop any of the other three, D’arcy Short, Klassen & Ben Stokes. Though I have talked a lot about Klassen, I feel he still will be racing against another hard hitter with the ability to play deep in the batting order, Jos Butler, so I won’t be surprised if Butler is preferred over Klassen. You need not talk of Stokes as we all know about his abilities and what all he brings to the table, despite being away from cricket for some time due to well-known controversy surrounding him. Another two guys, both emerging phenomenon in T20 cricket who got attention after their huge success in BBL, D’arcy Short, and Jofra Archer will be the ones, RR would be banking upon most. A blistering batman, D’arcy, who scored the record 572 runs in last BBL season that too with a sensational strike rate of 150+, in my opinion, will suit best for the opening slot with Ajinkya Rahane. Why I am not putting viable Rahul Tripathi as an opener is because I can’t find any other place for Rahane. Also, Tripathi who showed his capabilities while playing from Pune can be placed at 3 where he can score a bit faster than Rahane, which I feel, and I also don’t want to miss a chance to play a ferocious batsman at the top. Next, talking of Archer, who can bowl at some really nice pace, has amazing yorkers and bouncers, bowls great at death, superb reflexes well complemented by great athleticism, if you think that’s too much to have in player, I must tell you how amazed you will be when you would see him hitting that ball out of the park, a clean hitter of the ball he is. I think slot number 4 would be the place where we’d see a lot of different guys batting in different games, from Samson to Klassen or sometimes Stokes too.
Another name and a prodigy as people call him, Krishnappa Gowtham, after having sold to MI earlier for a huge amount of 2 crores and still warmed the bench for them that season, he this season was one of the attention seekers, who got sold for a whopping amount of 6.2 crores. With the ability to bat too, he would be strengthening RR’s batting to lower bottom and would mainly be playing the role of an off-spinner at number 8. With Stokes, Jofra and Gowtham there in the side will give RR an option to try either an extra batsman or to go with an extra seamer or a spinner, that way, to me they would be quite flexible. To add humour I would say that having spent a lot over Unadkat, they would let him rest even for a game. Also, the other bowler who’ll be taking charge with Unadkat and who have bowled pretty well over the years for RR would be Dhawal Kulkarni. At last position, I think they can play anyone among Shreyas Gopal, Mahipal Lomror, Ankit Sharma, or Jatin Saxena, with Shreyas Gopal looking a strong contender among them for the slot because of his batting abilities.
If you ask me who would be the player I will be looking for, I would rather say that I would not be looking for one single player. To me, D’arcy Short and Jofra Archer would be the players to watch out for. And personally, I will also like to see how Klassen come out as a player in the tournament.
Tentative Playing XI : 1. Ajinkya Rahane 2. D’arcy Short 3. Rahul Tripathi 4. Sanju Samson 5. Ben Stokes 6. Klassen/Butler 7. Jofra Archer 8. Krishnappa Gowtham 9. Dhawal Kulkarni 10. Jaydev Unadkat 11. Shreyas Gopal/Ankit Sharma/Mahipal Lomror/Jatin Saxena