They rely heavily on Ben Stokes ‘individual genius and the looming absence of the English all-rounder would seriously affect Rajasthan Royals’ campaign in the Indian Premier League this year. The core of Royals consists of three Englishmen: Stokes, Jos Buttler and Jofra Archer and their Australian skipper Steve Smith. However, it is the splendor of Strokes that defines the Royals, the perennial underachievers. They had good players in their line-up over the years, but did not get the desired result.
His father’s illness has left Stokes out of the game for a while and his absence, especially in the first half of the competition, would upset the team’s balance.
If Stokes could compete in the second half, the responsibility for keeping the squad alive for the playoffs would lie with their foreign recruits as Indian players don’t inspire much confidence in the lineup.
Buttler and Archer are expected to be available from the second game after their mandatory quarantine, and their good form is a silver lining to the Royals, who would be concerned about their skipper Smith’s current form.
Smith suffered another concussion in the UK during a recent training session.
The other two foreigners who can carry some cargo are South African batsman David Miller and Australian pacemaker Andrew Tye.
For Royals, the problem is their Indian core, which hasn’t exactly been consistent.
An IPL specialist, Sanju Samson is a minefield of talent, but has rarely played in five consecutive games in any of the editions for the past five years.
Robin Uthappa was once a prolific IPL player, but in recent years form has left him.
Even if he has been vehemently denied, after a great season with the now-defunct Rising Pune Supergiants, Jaydev Unadkat has not been able to replicate form for Royals. A price tag of more than a million dollars weighs heavily on him.
Varun Aaron has suffered injuries despite serious speed, while Manan Vohra has rarely been brilliant with a lot of talent.
This leaves the team with many rookies, including Riyan Parag, who made a good impression last season, and left-handed opener Yashasvi Jaiswal, who may replace Uthappa in the tournament.
In the bowling department, there’s Kartik Tyagi, who could be a serious Indian contender for the foreseeable future, but may have to wait for his chance.
At least the bowling attack that saves Archer looks thin on paper and the spider attack thinner with Shreyas Gopal as the saving grace. There is Mayank Markande, but after the first season he lost his sting.
It could be another season if making it to the playoffs could be a challenge for the Royals.
Selection: Steve Smith (C), Jos Buttler, Robin Uthappa, Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Manan Vohra, Kartik Tyagi, Akash Singh, Oshane Thomas, Andrew Tye, David Miller, Tom Curran, Aniruddha Joshi, Shreyas Gopal, Riyan Parag, Varun Aaron, Shashank Singh, Anuj Rawat, Mahipal Lomror, Mayank Markande.
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