The Rajasthan Royals will be going in with a new skipper in the fourteenth edition of the IPL after releasing Steve Smith. The new skipper Sanju Samson has played for Rajasthan for 6 seasons and is now set to be their leader for a long time if everything goes well. Ahead of the auctions, apart from the change in leadership, RR made quite a few changes, releasing a bunch of fast bowlers. With the auctions for the upcoming seasons are all set to take place on 18 February the RR management will have their task cut out, looking to plug the holes and setting up a team for the new captain.
As we near the auctions, here we look at the list of players retained, which areas they need to focus on and who should they target in the auctions:
PLAYERS RETAINED: Sanju Samson, Mahipal Lomror, Manan Vohra, Riyan Parag, David Miller, Mayank Markande, Jofra Archer, Shreyas Gopal, Jaydev Unadkat, Kartik Tyagi, Andrew Tye, Ben Stokes, Rahul Tewatia, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Jos Buttler, Anuj Rawat
PLAYERS RELEASED: Steve Smith, Varun Aaron, Tom Curran, Ankit Rajpoot, Aniruddha Joshi, Shashank Singh, Oshane Thomas, Akash Singh
Auction purse left: 34.85 CR
AREAS OF FOCUS:
The Rajasthan Royals will have a renewed approach, with quite a number of changes in the squad. Though the retained squad also shows a lot of promise, as evident last season, there are a few areas that they need to focus on in the auctions.
Out of the 8 released players, 5 were fast bowlers; 3 Indian and 2 overseas. As a result, they have just 4 pacers in the current squad (2 Indian and 2 overseas). With just Archer, Tye, Tyagi and Unadkat in the squad, the Royals need to fill the side with a decent number of pacers to back the frontline options. Moreover, with Unadkat not being in bets of forms, they need an experienced Indian pacer to take up the role. Not just Indian pacers, they also need a decent backup for Jofra Archer. Also, without great death bowling options, they will need guys who can hold it tight in the death overs.
With Steve Smith released, David Miller is most likely to take up his role in the line-up. However, with Miller not in best of form in recent years, the Royals need a decent backup who can do the job in case Miller does not fire. Also, the lower middle order, which won them a number of games in 2020, needs someone who can guide them even better and take off the pressure. A number of Indian as well as overseas middle order batsmen who can play anywhere between 4 and 7 will be in the radar of the Rajasthan Royals management.
Rajasthan Royals have some really good options in spin bowling in Shreyas Gopal, Mayank Markande and Rahul Tewatia. But all three of them are wrist spinners and provide more or less similar skill set. To get in some variety, they need to get some finger spinners, both off-spinners as ell as slow left-arm orthodox spinners. The absence of off-spinners did hurt them a bit last year and they must look to plug that hole in the upcoming auctions in order to better their performance from last season.
PLAYERS TO TARGET:
Based on the requirements and the players available in the auctions, here are a few players RR should target in the upcoming auctions:
Umesh Yadav: Having released 3 Indian pacers, Rajasthan Royals are in need of an experienced Indian pacer and there is no option available better than Umesh Yadav when it comes experienced fast bowlers. Umesh has undoubtedly been expensive at times, but if used wisely, especially in the powerplays, he can be a lethal option. With options such as Tye and Archer available for death bowling, RR can surely afford someone like Umesh to play purely as a powerplay bowler.
Jhye Richardson: The highest wicket taker in the recently concluded Big Bash League, Jhye Richardson is sure to attract high bids in the upcoming auctions. The Australian fast bowler has been amongst wickets while being his skipper’s go-to bowler. Richardson partnering with Archer will form a formidable new ball as well as death bowling pair. With the huge amount of purse left, Rajasthan can surely look to spend big on the Aussie pacer.
Mustafizzur Rehman: The left-arm pacer from Bangladesh is likely to get a contract after having missed 2 seasons. Known for his accurate and reliable variations, Mustafizzur fits in as the perfect choice that Rajasthan Royals need in their squad. He not only brings in variety being a left-arm pacer, but also comes in as an upgraded version of Jaydev Unadkat, who has so far been highly expensive.
Ben Cutting: Rajasthan Royals need an experienced finisher who can hit the ball out of the park right from the first ball. From the options available in the auctions, Cutting has to be the best available choice. Moreover, he can give a couple of overs in the middle and can bat anywhere between 4 and 7 based on the requirement. Cutting with the experience he brings in can also make it up for the side if Miller does not deliver.
Krishnappa Gowtham: Having made his IPL debut for Rajasthan Royals, K Gowtham was traded to Kings XI Punjab for the 2020 season. However, the Karnataka all-rounder has now been released by KXIP and with Rajasthan Royals needing a finger spinner, they might be tempted to bring back Gowtham, who not only bowled crucial overs but also played some match-winning cameos. Gowtham is one of the most experienced off-spinners available in the auctions and if Rajasthan are serious on getting in an offie, Gowtham has to be in their scheme of things.
Some of the other options RR can target include Riley Meredith, Jalaj Saxena, Sam Billings and Chetan Sakariya.