A team that is led by Steve Smith and has heavyweights – Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Jofra Archer – in its ranks, needs to be taken seriously. After all, with so many superstars lining up, the expectations rise and it’s no surprise that the fans want to see fireworks.
But for Rajasthan Royals, things have been far from impressive in IPL 2020. Despite starting the tournament on a winning note – clinching its first two games – the side finished at the bottom of the table with just six wins from 14 games, leading to several questions in implementing its strategy.
What went wrong?
Consistency is the key in IPL and that’s one area Rajasthan faltered in. Firstly, it could not get its batting order right – with too many experiments. It tried five different combinations at the top and that certainly did the side more harm than good.
Sanju Samson got off to a fine start and then completely lost the plot. It was a similar story with captain Smith – who scored 311 runs from 14 games. The Australian superstar looked under pressure and that had an impact on his batting. Even though Stokes and Archer played some match-winning knocks, they were largely inconsistent.
Things were no better in the bowling department either. While Jofra Archer was at his furious best, he hardly had any support from the fellow pacers – Jaydev Unadkat and Ankit Rajpoot.
A few questionable captaincy decisions also hurt the side at crucial junctures.
In a season where nothing went its way, Archer and Rahul Tewatia were the only two positive stories emerging from the Royals’ camp. The England pace ace carried the bowling load with impressive shows in the Powerplay and the death. Maintaining a pace of 145kmph, Archer had the best economy rate of 5.35 for a fast bowler.
The other success story was Tewatia, who shot to fame with his match-winning knock against Kings XI Punjab. The all-rounder from Haryana played a key role in the middle-order, amassing 255 runs and scalping 10 wickets. Known for his big-hitting skills, Tewatia stood firm and helped the team romp home a couple of times.
Players indeed failed to play their roles, but then, there were some baffling decisions taken by the team management – which comprises the cricket director, head coach, batting coach, fast bowling coach, spin bowling coach and a fielding coach.
But what’s more surprising is the fact that despite having Shane Warne – who guided Royals to its only title win in 2008 – as its mentor (and brand ambassador), the team did not reap the benefits. During his stay in the UAE, Warne was seen speaking mostly to the franchise stakeholders in the stands rather than joining the coaching staff in the dugout.
Soon after leaving the bubble, Warne told Sky Sports that Buttler should have definitely opened – something that the team management did not persist – and also insisted that “my hands were a little bit tied and I would have liked to have had a bit more of an influence on the team…”
That, perhaps, speaks volumes!