Here’s what an ideal starting XI could look like for the Sanju Samson-led Rajasthan Royals in the 2022 Indian Premier League.
1. Yashasvi Jaiswal
Jaiswal was retained for Rs. 4 crore ahead of the auctions and will most likely open the innings after finding form in the second leg of IPL 2021 in the UAE where he scored 183 runs in seven innings at 155.08, including a 21-ball 50 against CSK. Jaiswal had a nightmarish Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (SMAT) 2021-22, averaging 9.25 in five matches and struggled to maintain his pace in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, scoring 128 runs with a strike rate of 67.72.
2. Jos Buttler (World Cup)
Buttler hit a 64-ball 124 against Sunrisers Hyderabad in his last IPL game, prompting the franchise to hold him for Rs. score 10. However, until that hundred, Buttler had a lukewarm 2021 IPL, scoring just 130 runs in six games and hitting at a slow 127.45. After missing the UAE stage of the IPL, Buttler took the T20 World Cup by storm, scoring for England with 269 runs at a strike rate of 151.12.
FILE PHOTO: Jos Buttler was at his best during his 64-ball 124 against Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2021 IPL. – PTIA
3. Devdutt Padikkal
While Padikkal has scored 884 runs at 125.03 while opening the at bat for RCB over two seasons, he may need to adjust at number 3 to accommodate a left-right combination at the top. After disappointing SMAT and VHT campaigns, Padikkal hopes to justify the Rs. 7.75 crore price tag. The southpaw will draw confidence from his most recent inning of 178 against Puducherry in the Ranji Trophy.
4. Sanju Samson (c)
Withheld for Rs. 14 crore, the skipper was the leading run scorer for the side in IPL 2021 with 484 runs at a strike rate of 136.72 and is expected to anchor and add firepower in the middle order. Samson had a stellar 2021-22 SMAT with 227 runs at an average of 75.66 as he cruised 141.87 and will be key to the franchise’s aspirations for a turnaround.
5. Shimron Hetmyer
The flamboyant West Indian finally came of age in IPL 2021, scoring 242 runs against a stunning 168.05 for Delhi Capitals. While Hetmyer needs to add consistency to his game, it’s the southpaw’s big hit that netted him Rs. 8.50 crore at the auctions. Hetmyer has missed much of international cricket due to fitness issues and is eager to go for the Royals.
6. Riyan Parag
The 21-year-old from Assam will have a lot to prove after the franchise lost faith in him despite a few bad seasons, scoring just 179 runs with a tame strike rate of 111.87. Parag, however, showed a glimpse of his promise as he was top scorer for Assam in SMAT and VHT this season and completed it with a decent red ball season with three-fifties in six innings.
FILE PHOTO: Riyan Parag has yet to live up to the confidence Rajasthan Royals management has shown in him. – SPORTZPICS
7. James Neesham
Neesham has played just 12 IPL games since his debut in 2014, scoring 61 runs and taking eight wickets. The Kiwi can play handy cameos and be thrifty with the ball at death, as he showed in the 2021 T20 World Cup. Roped in for Rs. 1.5 crore, Neesham will lend much needed balance to the Royals as finisher and third pacer.
8. Ravichandran Ashwin
The veteran spinner was a steal for the Royals at Rs. 5 crore and will be the hub of a formidable bowling spinning department. Ashwin’s return to the India whiteball team didn’t go as he would have liked, but the off-spinner is a force to be reckoned with in the IPL with the new ball and in the center overs. His 145 IPL wickets in an economy of less than seven will serve the team well.
9. Trent Boult
Threatening with the new ball, restricting in the middle-overs with a knack for picking wickets on death, Boult is a no-brainer in any T20 team. The Kiwi speedster had some great seasons with Mumbai Indians, scalping 39 wickets at under eight runs per over. Boult was also New Zealand’s top wicket taker (13 wickets at 6.25 rpo) in his sensational run to the final.
FILE PHOTO: Trent Boult finishes off some impressive seasons with Mumbai Indians and will spearhead the Rajasthan Royals pace assault. – SPORTZPICS
10. Yuzvendra Chahal
Two of India’s most experienced active spinners – Chahal and Ashwin – will make a deadly leg-spin and off-spin duo for the Royals. A consistent wicket taker for RCB, Chahal took 18 wickets in 2021 with an impressive economy of 7.05 and became India’s leading wicket taker in T20Is on his return to the national whiteball team.
11. Prasid Krishna
The lanky pacer was the most expensive purchase for the Royals at Rs. 10 crore after taking nine wickets at an average of 7.56 in the three match ODI series against the West Indies at home. Touted as a “thinking cricketer”, the Karnataka pacer had a breakthrough IPL season in 2021, taking 12 wickets in 10 matches but will have to work on his frugal rate, which is more than nine runs per over .
|The team: Sanju Samson (c) (wk), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Jos Buttler (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Trent Boult, Shimron Hetmyer, Devdutt Padikkal, Prasidh Krishna, Yuzvendra Chahal, Riyan Parag, KC Cariappa, Navdeep Saini, Anunay Singh, Kuldeep Sen , Dhruv Jurel, Tejas Baroka, Kuldip Yadav, Shubham Garhwal, James Neesham, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Rassie van der Dussen, Daryl Mitchell, Obed McCoy.|