Rajasthan Royals’ Poor Selection Choices Letting Team Down
Rajasthan Royals’ constant chopping and changing hasn’t helped their cause with their top 3 not scoring runs.
It is that time of the season in the Indian Premier League (IPL) when you start to sort out the haves and have nots. It is clear now that Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab are clearly belonging to the ‘have nots’ this season, thus far.
Kings XI Punjab have failed to get their campaign going mainly because of a lack of quality in their personnel, but Rajasthan really have no such excuses.
They have four of the best players in the world in their ranks –add one of the most sought-after young batsman wicket-keepers in India to the mix and they have a strong core to boot. That in itself should have been half the battle won. But that has not been the case.
Out of the four world-class players, one of them is the world’s best all-rounder, Ben Stokes, who will be available from Sunday when half the campaign is over. That has meant that the one foreign player’s slot has been left to Tom Curran and Andrew Tye to fill in till the big man joins the mix.
It is almost as if both Curran and Tye were warming the seat for the giant to come back. That is not an ideal scenario to be in for any cricketer. In a tournament where only four foreigners can play in the XI, you cannot have a situation where one of the four is unsure of his place in the XI.
Then come to the form of the big two: Jos Buttler and Steve Smith. Though they have doen well in fits and starts, they have failed to offer consistency, and yet, cannot really be dropped. The Royals’ campaign is on the verge of being derailed because even though they have options on the bench, they just cannot utilize them because Buttler and Smith are not going to facet he axe.
Someone like David Miller, who would have been ideal for a young middle-order like Rajasthan’s to bank on, is unlikely to get a game. Miller would have been an ideal pick till Stokes was to arrive because he would have given some hope to their young line-up.
Instead with Miller out, it has been down to the likes of Mahipal Lomoror and Rahul Tewatia to salvage the situation. This is likely to come off once in five attempts as Tewatia showed against Punjab, but it is not a strategy that will pay off always.
Even the likes of Riyan Parag who has been touted as a future Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been messed up and is currently out of favour. The undue pressure on Yashasvi Jaiswal, one of the most talked about young batsmen in India has been unfair as well. He needed support from the management but was sacrificed when Buttler was back in the mix.
Jaiswal has made more appearances before and after the match meeting his idols rather than during the match when he could have gained a lot.
Oh, and before you forget ,Sanju Samson is that much talked about young wicket-keeper batsman in India, who struck form in the only two games Rajasthan Royals have won this season. That as usual led to the annual talk about why Samson is not in the Indian squad in every format. His inconsistent form thereafter has sort of answered that question too.
In all, Rajasthan have had 17 players thus far playing for them this season, which is far from ideal. In a tournament like the IPL, it is important to show consistency, but they have not shown that this year. Of course, results not going their way has not helped matters.
Add to this, the poor run with the bat for the experienced Robin Uthappa and you have a perfect storm brewing in the ranks. Uthappa was one of the pioneers in this format when it first came into vogue in India in 2007. But the fact that he is not in favour is a clear indication that T20 cricket does not wait for anyone.
The constant chopping and changing with the new ball attack is also showing a lack of confidence.
They have thus far used Jaydev Unadkat, Ankit Rajpoot, Varun Aaron and Kartik Tyagi with the new ball. They get tonked for a few and they are immediately discarded. That is hardly an ideal scenario if they want to progress ahead in the competition.
It seems to be a simple strategy. Jofra Archer, the fourth world-class player in their ranks, bowls thunderbolts with the new ball and death, in between he is just guarding the boundary line. It shows complete dependency on just one bowler, alongside a lack of faith in the others.
The squad needs a bit of rejuvenation. Maybe they could probably start by requesting their mentor and former captain Shane Warne to move into the dugout. Warne’s valued inputs, as even former England captain Kevin Pietersen noted on air during his commentary stint, will shake up the thought process. Thus far it appears muddled.
It may probably reach a stage where Smith himself could be forced to drop out of the playing XI, because the foreigner quota may well demand a shake-up. Miller cannot continue to warm the bench, whereas Curran deserved a longer run.
For starters, Rajasthan need to stick to their playing XI and back them. Till they do not achieve consistency with their selection, they will never achieve security amongst the players which usually leads to better performances.
The only consistent sides in this year’s IPL, the Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals, have struck a formula and are consistent with their selection. Rajasthan needs to reach that stage, but for that, they need their captain to strike form. Once he rediscovers his mojo, maybe the campaign could be back on track.
Else they would be left telling the world, wait till Stokes starts playing things will change. But maybe, by then it will be too late and the campaign itself will be derailed for good this year.
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