Rajasthan under Steven Smith have assembled a strong Indian core for the 2020 edition of the Indian T20 League. With several young cricketers and a few handy additions in the spin and middle-order, Rajasthan's Indian contingent is reliable and strong. They also have little doubt around their four overseas players.
Overseas players: Ben Stokes, Steven Smith, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Andrew Tye, David Miller, Oshane Thomas
A terrific death bowler, fast and relentless, Jofra Archer is a valuable bowler across phases of an innings. Skiddy off the surface and capable of generating life from dead tracks, Archer will be tasked with cleaning up the top and the tail by Rajasthan. With Rajasthan's Indian crop of new-ball bowlers strengthening, Archer can be saved more for the death overs where his effectiveness is multiplied.
A destructive opener, Jos Buttler single-handedly kept Rajasthan alive for most of the 2019 Indian T20 League season. The dynamic England batsman is best suited to kick off the innings, and at Rajasthan, he has had the freedom to express himself in the powerplay overs where his strike-rate in the last few overs is second only to Sunil Narine. Buttler, however, kicks on from his starts more often than not, making him an even more threatening proposition as an opener.
The Australian skipper isn't an ideal T20 middle-order batsman but is versatile enough to keep the scoreboard ticking at a decent pace and play the anchor role. Smith's strike-rate in T20s has improved in the recent past and his ability to take off after decent starts has also come to the fore. The slow, low wickets in UAE should suit Smith's strengths and minimise his strike rate issue as totals are likely to be middling rather than in the high range.
David Miller/Ben Stokes
There is uncertainty around Ben Stokes' availability at the moment after he pulled out of the England-Australia ODI series due to personal issues, and the Royals management have confirmed that he will arrive late. They aren't replacing him, though, and he is likely to be the first-choice fourth overseas player once he arrives. Until then, Royals will have South Africa's David Miller, who can either open the innings alongside Buttler for left-right top-order power or play the finisher role where Royals lack in strength. Miller's inclusion, though, depends on Stokes' availability as the South African's numbers in the format aren't all that impressive in recent times.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Punit Paranjpe