Rajasthan Royals made a great comeback to the IPL in 2018. After spending two seasons away from the tournament due to a ban, they came back as a professional outfit who weren’t scared of spending big on match winners. The result was an entry into the play-offs after long. But they failed badly in 2019, finishing second from bottom in one of the most tightly contested seasons. With players like Smith, Buttler, Stokes and Archer in their line-up, the Royals are amongst the big players in the league now in terms of personnel. Where they lack though is in solid Indian personnel.
But unlike last year, the Indians on the side have put their hand up. But apart from Archer, none of their top overseas stars have taken responsibility of guiding the team in crucial situations. Stokes is just two matches old in the tournament but he too hasn’t played a winning hand. The English talisman had a chance against Delhi Capitals but he wilted in a run chase that was always within Royals’ reach. That puts them in a precarious situation now as they need to win the majority of their remaining matches to qualify.
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Against Royal Challengers Bangalore, this resolve of theirs will be tested. RCB lost to bottom team KXIP and they will be looking to come back strong to strengthen their qualification bid. A day match in sweltering heat will test the fitness of the players. RCB needs a better bowling performance and also know that they can’t tinker with a set batting line-up, which they paid heavily for against KXIP.
With the wickets slowing down massively, AB de Villiers will be crucial as he can get quick runs on any surface and it is essential for RCB to ensure he gets as much time in the middle as possible. Chris Morris’ hitting power was evident in the last over against KXIP and Kohli would do well to get Morris in at number 5 ahead of the Indian lower order players.
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Chahal and Sundar will be difficult to get away and with Smith woefully out of form, one among Stokes and Buttler needs to stay till the end to ensure the Royals have momentum throughout the innings. Time has come for Robin Uthappa to take more responsibility too as Samson continues to struggle. Perhaps a change in the batting order is the need of the hour, with Buttler opening with Samson at the top, which will give the wicket-keeper batsman the added license and advantage of field restrictions. Uthappa at three makes more sense than at five. Stokes and Smith can float according to game situation and Tewatia, Parag and Archer can do the finisher’s job.
Kartik Tyagi has been a revelation and how he handles ABD in the death overs will be a good contest to watch.