A team led by Steve Smith and with heavyweights Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Jofra Archer in its ranks needs to be taken seriously. With so many superstars in the line-up, the expectations rise and it’s no surprise that the fans want to see fireworks.
But for Rajasthan Royals, things were 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 on its strategy.
What went wrong?
Consistency is the key in the IPL and that’s one area in which Rajasthan faltered. It could not get its batting order right — leading to too many experiments. It tried five different combinations at the top and that 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 Archer was at his furious best, he hardly had any support from 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 a very good economy rate of 5.35 for a fast bowler.
Tewatia 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.
It’s true that the Royals players failed to play their roles, but then, there were some baffling decisions taken by the team management. Despite having Shane Warne — who guided the 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 with — 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…”
The hero: Jofra Archer
Matches: 14; wickets: 20; best bowling: 3/19; average: 18.25; economy rate: 6.55; strike rate: 16.70; four-wicket hauls: 0