Rajasthan Royals, the champions of the inaugural edition, haven’t tasted too much success since. After the victory in 2008, the best they have achieved is the third place in 2013 season of IPL. Apart from that, they have reached the playoffs twice in 2015 and 2018. RR would hope for a turnaround when they play their first match of the season against Kings XI Punjab on March 25. Let’s have a look at the Pre-Tournament Best XI for Rajasthan Royals for IPL 2019.
In 2018, the captain Steve Smith was banned for the ball tampering case against South Africa and this led to Ajinkya Rahane leading the side. He took the team to the playoffs after initial losses in the tournament. But they were knocked out in the Eliminator by Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Ajinkya Rahane will again lead RR in IPL 2019. Steve Smith is racing against time to recover from the elbow injury and regain full fitness ahead of the tournament. There may also be doubts regarding the potency of the lineup when Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler leave the tournament to join England’s pre-World Cup training camp in early May. However, the Royals will be banking on their express pacers such as Varun Aaron and Oshane Thomas.
Powerful batting line-up
Rahane is likely to open the innings with Rahul Tirupati. Tirupati, who played for Rising Pune Supergiant in 2017, showed his ability to strike freely in the power play. But, he didn’t get the same opportunities while playing for RR. However, he was able to make some valuable contributions batting down the order.
Another facet to the opening spot could be Jos Buttler. If Buttler opens, Tripathi will be pushed down. The English batsman is one of the finest batsmen of the shortest format of the game. He can be lethal in the powerplay. But if he bats in the middle-order, he could play the finisher’s role like he did last year.
Steve Smith’s addition to the batting unit can prove to be a massive boost. But due to his injury concerns as well as doubts over his form, it’s not certain whether he’ll get a game straight away. If he finds his touch soon, there aren’t too many valuable batsmen than him in world cricket.
Ben Stokes could be the key player for RR given his credentials with bat and bowl. While playing for RPS in 2017, he was the Player of the Tournament. But he couldn’t repeat the heroics in the next season. However, the all-rounder is capable of turning things around quickly.
But there’s another overseas batsman who is knocking on the door. Ashton Turner forced everyone to look at him when he played a match-winning knock for Australia in a recent ODI against India. Smith’s place could be in danger because of Turner’s presence.
Doubts in the bowling department
RR bought the young West Indian pacer Oshane Thomas who generates an average of 145 kph. But he might have to wait for his chances as Jofra Archer is one of the first picks in the side. Archer was the player to watch out for last year and will be the chief pacer for RR in 2019.
Following a strong show in the domestic season by Jaydev Unadkat, the Royals fans will be hoping that the pacer replicates his marquee performance of the 2017 season. The left-arm pacer was the second highest wicket-taker with 24 wickets in 12 matches at an economy of 7.02 and a best of 5/30.
Rajasthan has decent spinning all-rounders Krishnappa Gowtham and Shreyas Gopal who can help in the middle overs. But the absence of a renowned spinner in the squad can hurt the team on tracks that would offer some turn.
Pre-Tournament Best XI for Rajasthan Royals
Ajinkya Rahane, Rahul Tripathi, Jos Buttler (wk), Sanju Samson, Steve Smith, Shreyas Gopal, K Gowtham, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jaydev Unadkat, Varun Aaron