Steven Smith, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Sanju Samson, there’s no dearth of superstars in Rajasthan Royals but it only shows how a poorly-balanced side never quite takes the cake. 2020 IPL was again a season for RR where the same cycle of under performance repeated for nth time.
Pretty much like RCB and KXIP, Rajasthan Royals have been the underachievers in the IPL over the years. From finishing at 7th in 2019 IPL, they went a notch lower finishing as the worst side of the IPL 2020. Imagine finishing at eight in a season where CSK performed as badly as they did after the great Sharjah start that RR got. Royals’ overdependent pace bowling on Jofra Archer was again exposed while their batting superstars blew hot and cold and it ended up a disaster season yet again for the Jaipur-based franchise.
Steven Smith (12.50 crore): Not only Smith underperformed as a skipper with his debatable decisions in 2020 IPL but also with the bat. As the batting line-up was already full of foreign stars, someone like David Miller, who’s far more suitable for T20s had to warm the bench. With Buttler and Samson already there as potential captaincy options, RR would be better off releasing Smith. More than form it’s about the kind of player he’s – an anchor. In a team full of better top-order players, it isn’t worth it to keep a whopping 12.50 crore engaged in him and with the money, they can go for a gun middle-order batsman, which RR desperately need.
Jaydev Unadkat (3 crore): It’s been hard to make sense of Rajasthan Royals’ persistence with the left-armer. Unadkat conceded runs at 9.91 per over and could merely take four wickets in seven games and continued his poor performance in the 2020 edition from where he had left in 2019 IPL. He doesn’t add much value and for 3 crore, RR will be better off going for an uncapped pacer instead, with an eye on future and far less investment.
Varun Aaron (2.40 crore): Fast bowler Varun Aaron hardly played three games last IPL, not picking even one wicket and ended up with a miserable economy of 11.75 runs per over. He has only played eight games in last two seasons and Royals are better off releasing him if they don’t trust his skills enough and to be fair to RR, he hasn’t given them too many reasons to back him for a place in the XI as well. So why keep this much money engaged? They will be better off trying to go for pacers released from other teams with the money.
Ankit Rajpoot (3 crore): Rajpoot is again one of these uncapped pacers in the league who mostly fails to show any consistency at all. Interestingly, someone as young as Kartik Tyagi in his first season was more promising than him despite all his experience in IPL and domestic cricket. The UP lad had one of the worst economies in the season as he gave away 11.71 runs per over after six games, taking just two wickets. With Tyagi and Akash already there and with former doing well, Rajpoot doesn’t add much value.
Tom Curran (1 crore): Tom Curran comes across as an enticing option as he has a bag full of variations and can also get decent lower-order runs. But, when he plays, he’s one of those come-hit-me bowlers that batsmen leave no stone unturned to tee off successfully against. The Englishman took three wickets in five games last season and had an absolute poor ER of 11.45 that too for a foreign bowler. In the best interest of the team, RR should let him go given his poor bowling without which his decent batting doesn’t add much as his primary job remains that of a bowler. Now, if they release him, they can go for a better seam all-rounder with all the money they save from all these releases to make a well-rounded team.
Marry (Retain at all cost)
When a team performs as horribly as Rajasthan Royals have done, there are a lot of temptations to do a complete overhaul and release a heap of players, who they think don’t add as much value. But, they need to be strategic as there will only be a mini-auction in 2021 and they might run out of replacements if they release too many players. Money isn’t an issue for RR as they have 14.75 crore remaining in their purse, which is the second most amount of money for any IPL team after Kings XI Punjab. And if they release the above-mentioned players, it would add a lot more to their purse. So, they can retain quite a few players and then add the missing pieces of puzzle in the auction, mostly for fast bowling and middle-order options, it would work for them quite well.
Frill (Back ups)
Yashasvi Jaiswal, Manan Vohra, Akash Singh, Mayank Markande, Anuj Rawat, and Shashank Singh.
Yashasvi Jaiswal- The 19-year-old Jaiswal didn’t quite set the stage on fire in his first IPL and played merely three games, where he was found out. But, the world has already seen the talent of this promising batsman in domestic cricket and at junior-level and given his temperament, he can be a great long-term investment.
Mayank Markande- With figures of 0/17, 0/15 and 2/13, Punjab leg-spinner Markande has been quite impressive for his state side in the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy. What has gone against Markande in IPL is that RR already have two leg-spinners and that’s why he didn’t even play a single game in IPL 2020 but he’s a great back-up option for Shreyas Gopal and given his top-notch skills, he should be retained in the side.
Akash Singh- Given how poorly the likes of Unadkat, Aaron and Rajpoot have done for RR, it’s far better for them to invest and back the young local Rajasthan lad Akash Singh. Kartik Tyagi did a lot of promise in the last season and that should give RR the conviction to trust another U-19 pacer Akash than the tried and tested failures. The left-armer adds variation to the attack and hits the deck hard to generate seam movement and should be backed and groomed like KKR are doing with Mavi and Kamlesh.
Manan Vohra- It was a little surprising that Rajasthan picked Vohra in the squad yet they didn’t play him in even a single game in the 2020 IPL. A young Jaiswal was preferred instead of him. But Vohra does boast very decent batting skills like we have seen for KXIP in the earlier seasons. Given how young Jaiswal is, and is in his nascent stage, Vohra can be a good back-up opening option if Uthappa fails to do justice at the top of the order.
Apart from these the likes of Anuj Rawat and Shashank Singh can also be retained as back-up options.
Total number of players RR need to retain: 13 (marry) + 6 (frill): 19
Total number of players RR need to release: 5 (chuck)
Cash saved: 21.90 crore
Remaining purse: 36.65 crore