With Steve Smith back at the helm and Ajinkya Rahane sold out, Rajasthan have a significantly different look to their squad in the upcoming Indian T20 League season. While a lot of their core players remain in the side, there were some interesting additions to the squad with the likes of David Miller, Robin Uthappa and Andrew Tye added for experience.
They also seemed pretty intent on grooming the youngsters for the future, and under-19 players like Yashasvi Jaiswal, Akash Singh and Kartik Tyagi earned the deals in the process. In Tom Curran, Mayank Markande and Manan Vohra, they have also added a few underrated T20 players.
Rajasthan have less clutter, but with Ben Stokes in doubt for the season after pulling out of Australia series, their batting, and more importantly bowling stocks might get a significant hit. Jaydev Unadkat is in a rugged form, having picked 65 wickets in the Ranji season and could be a key player for them this season.
Last 2 seasons - WIN/LOSS record
2018 - 7 wins, 8 losses
2019 - 5 wins, 8 losses
Rajasthan are preparing to take inspiration from their title-winning season (2008) and find a way to squeeze in another impressive performance. A franchise that often flies under the radar, Rajasthan have managed to make it to the playoffs only three times since their 2008 triumph (2013, 2015 and 2018).
Mahipal Lomror, Manan Vohra, Riyan Parag, Steve Smith, Robin Uthappa, 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, Sanju Samson, Anuj Rawat
Top run-scorers from retained players (last 2 seasons)
- Jos Buttler - 859 runs
- Sanju Samson - 783 runs
- Steven Smith - 319 runs
Top wicket-takers from retained players (last 2 seasons)
- Shreyas Gopal - 31 wickets
- Jofra Archer - 26 wickets
- Jaydev Unadkat - 21 wickets
Rajasthan's strength is their top-order that has Jos Buttler and Sanju Samson batting together with Ben Stokes and Steven Smith to follow. With David Miller, Riyan Parag and Shreyas Gopal also in the mix, Rajasthan have a formidable batting unit and some exciting bench strength this season.
Unlike the past, their bowling attack could well be the key this year. In the spin department, Gopal will be backed by Mayank Markande. Even if Archer is out, Rajasthan have Oshane Thomas, Tom Curran and Andrew Tye as options. In Ankit Rajpoot - acquired in the trading window from Kings XI Punjab - they have a swing bowler to complement Unadkat. The under-19 duo of Kartik Tyagi and Akash Singh also offer promise with the former likely to start a lot of games.
Their strength could essentially be their weakness too. The batting group has a few restrictive players including Smith who isn't an out and out T20 player. His batting position and the point of entry to the crease could be a huge game-changer for Rajasthan this season.
They might also have to zero-in on their four overseas players. Given a plethora of options to chose from, picking a balanced XI would be a headache. While Tom Curran and Jofra Archer would top the bowling department, choosing from Smith, Miller, Buttler, Archer and Stokes would be a task.
Rajasthan might continue to struggle unless they have some stellar individual contributions from their Indian players. Overall, a last or a second-last finish appears to be in the offing for them this season as well.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Sajjad Hussain