The Ajinkya Rahane led Rajasthan Royals (RR) team definitely punched above their weights to qualify for the playoffs stage in the eleventh edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). After a poor start in the opening set of matches, the Royals suddenly changed gears with a few standout individual performances to peak at the right moment. This year they would be opening their campaign against the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) on March 25 in their own den at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium. The Rajasthan Royals who last won the trophy long way back in the opening IPL season in 2008 will be desperately aiming take home the precious IPL 2019 title this year.
The Royals went into the auction party with a pretty settled unit, however, their main motive was to choose the right set of back-ups for their star foreign players who wouldn’t probably be available for the complete IPL 2019 season. In that bidding process, the most surprising buy was perhaps Jaydev Unadkat, whom they bagged for a very high amount of INR. 8.4 Crore. With the inclusions of Oshane Thomas, Varun Aaron along with Unadkat, they strengthened their pace contingent even more. This means that they are hoping that their late picks, Liam Livingstone and Ashton Turner will serve as proper back-up options. They picked a total of 9 players at the auction proceedings to complete their squad of 25.
Rajasthan Royals’ possible starting XI
Jos Buttler’s scintillating performance at the top of the order was one of the major reasons for Rajasthan Royals sudden shift in momentum in IPL 2019. In 13 matches last year, Buttler averaged more than 54, scoring a sensational tally of 548 runs with a powerful strike-rate of 155.24. Although he will be available for a part of the 2019 season, he will be hoping to continue his fireworks while opening the batting along with his skipper, Ajinkya Rahane. The upcoming IPL season is also a very crucial one for someone like Rahane as he will be aiming to present his case for that vacant No.4 spot for the 2019 World Cup.
Aussie cricketer Steve Smith, whose ball-tampering will end by March 28, will be available to participate in the IPL this year. However, his fitness status is still unknown as he is currently nursing a serious shoulder injury, for which he is likely to stay unavailable for the first few matches. In his absence, young Sanju Samson will be taking up the crucial No.3 spot. Samson’s campaign got off to a thunderous start last year, playing a terrific inning of 92 runs off just 45 balls which consisted of 10 monstrous sixes against RCB, but he failed to continue striking with the same pace and consistency in the second half of the season. Thus, he will be looking to put forward a consistent performance this year along with his partner Rahul Tripathi, who will also be desperately hoping to a get a regular run.
English all-rounder Ben Stokes will play as a floater in the first half of the upcoming tournament. His phenomenal ability to play anywhere in the middle-order along with his fabulous bowling skills, makes him a key member of any T20 side. Stokes had a dismal season both with the bat and ball last year, but he will be eyeing to contribute with the similar heroics which he showed in his debut season in 2017. Whereas after stealing the show with a blistering 43-ball 84, Australia’s newly found finisher Ashton Turner will be the player to watch out for in the coming IPL edition. Spin bowling all-rounder Krishnappa Gowtham showed a lot of promise last year, after which the franchise chose to entrust him with another shot at the dice.
Leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal will be partnering his Karnataka teammate, Krishnappa Gowtham in the spin bowling department. After performing decently in the minimal number of opportunities, Shreyas staunched into the limelight with a stunning match-winning spell against RCB, to take his team through to the IPL 2018 playoffs, which in turn worked in his favour as he got another chance to prove his worth. The Indian experienced fast bowling duo of comprising of Dhawal Kulkarni and Jaydev Unadkat will be leading the fast bowling unit along with current England hot property Jofra Archer.
Probable XI: Jos Buttler (wk), Ajinkya Rahane (c), Sanju Samson, Rahul Tripathi, Ben Stokes, Ashton Turner, Krishnappa Gowtham, Shreyas Gopal, Jofra Archer, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jaydev Unadkat.