From the moneyball team, they became the big spenders of the IPL, but it hasn’t helped them much. They finished 7th on the points table and were spared the wooden spoon thanks to RCB’s miseries. The RR setup did have the quality it took to do well this year. But their star players disappointed to no extent. Meanwhile in the background, RR do have some success stories as well. As they have a reputation for doing, RR have unearthed quite a few new talents. So dig in to get the players of RR being given points out of 10 based on their performance this year.
Ajinkiya Rahane – 6.5
Rahane’s IPL 2019 can be divided into two parts. The part where Rahane was captain and the part where Rahane wasn’t captain. During the earlier stages when Rahane was captaining the side, RR was really suffering. His field placing was all over the place and the bowlers weren’t being given their overs at the right places. Add to that his woeful and slow batting and you have got a player who will be getting death threat from fans. But as soon as Steve Smith took over the reigns for RR, something magical happened. Rahane emerged from his slump and started hitting out. He was scoring around 30 or 40 in every game at a strike rate north of 150. And then came his 105 against DC. That innings was truly majestic. So I had to give him at least an 8 for the batting and a 5 for the captaincy.
Jos Buttler – 8.5
After the IPL 2018, I don’t think anyone was arguing over whether Buttler should be sent in to open. This year fatherhood and World Cup duties shortened his stay with the Royals. But little baby Georgia Rose will be delighted to know that as long as her father was there with RR, he left an impact. When Buttler played, it looked like all the batting revolved around him. Had he gotten a bit of support from any other batsman, RR would have posted huge totals. The knock of 89 against MI off just 43 balls was in particular very special. A strike rate of 207 is not something you see everyday. That one over where he just completely asserted himself was the one where he hit 28 runs. 6,4,4,4,4,6, the scorecard read. Too bad he missed out on his century there.
Steve Smith – 8.0
The stats were clear. Smith is not only the captain with the highest win percentage in IPL but also bats the best when he is the one leading the side. Yet RR overlooked this and made dear Rahane the captain whose numbers show that he is neither a successful captain, nor does he bat well when he is under the pressure of captaincy, a pressure which Smith thrives on. No wonder Steve disappointed till he got the captain’s armband. After that, his innings were slow, but surely steady and these innings got him to an average just short of 40, the highest amongst all batsmen. His captaincy was great too and the results echo this. RR went on a winning spree under him, and had they won the last match, they would have qualified. A match, you guessed it, where Smith could not play and Rahane was the captain.
Riyan Parag – 9.0
I just do not know what to say about this youngster. To give you an idea of how young he is, let me tell you that he celebrated his results in the board exams with his RR teammates. Yeah, he is just 17. Although he plays like he is a good 20 year older than that. Such levels of maturity are rarely found in a 17-year old. In an RR batting lineup that constantly failed, Riyan Parag was there to hold up the fort more often than not. He took responsibility and paired up with the tail-enders perfectly to see RR to victory and add 43 runs to his total. 5 days earlier, Parag had played a blistering knock of 47 off 29 against MI to lead RR to an easy win. What made this knock even more special is that MI was the team Parag used to support! I was just scrolling through twitter when I found his account. I opened it and the very first tweet made by him was in 2015 and it said, ‘Come on MI, let’s win the IPL!’. I hope he isn’t nursing any feelings for MI now, because if RR have any sense, they are never going to release this gem of a player. Oh, and he bowls.
Krishnappa Gowtham – 4.0
Krishnappa Gowtham has made his place at the very top of a long list of one- season wonders. Last season, he was just so good. He restricted the flow of runs in the powerplay, took wickets, and finished off many-a-game for the Royals. He has not reached half the heights of 2018 this year. 7 matches – 1 wicket. So much for Gowtham the mystery spinner. 4 innings – 18 runs, strike rate – 94. So much for Gowtham the hard hitter. After his 2019 campaign, the only team he walks straight into is the Underperforming XI of the season.
Ben Stokes – 5.5
Here we were last season. Thinking 196 runs and 8 wickets was bad for Stokes. He did us one better. 123 runs and 6 wickets. Wonderful! Ben Stokes was paid 12.5 crore INR for this. That effectively translates to more than 10.15 lakh per run. The ratio for bowling is even better. For every wicket he took, he effectively received more than 2 crore. I have a feeling that if RR retains him next year, he is going to do much better. But he might not get another chance to prove himself after the performance this season that spoils the good name of disappointing.
Jaydev Unadkat – 6.0
Unadkat – The only person who can give any competition to dear Mr.Gowtham in the list of one-season wonders. Last season he got 11 scalps, and this season 10. When the most expensive player in the auction gets dropped, you know something’s wrong. Next year, RR will retain only one of Unadkat and Stokes. But my gut feeling says that whoever will get retained will repeat the performances of 2017.
Shreyas Gopal – 10.0
If there is anyone who deserves a 10 from the Royals, it has to be the leggie Gopal. Last season, Gopal wasn’t given as many chances, but when he got them, he performed. This year he played all the matches and has now cemented his place in the RR lineup till he retires. His 20 wickets stopped the RR ship from sinking so often. Gopal’s 4 overs were the times when the batsmen actually played in fear which put a stop to the flow of runs. His hat-trick against RCB was the highlight of the whole tournament for RR. After all, it’s not so often that you see an uncapped player getting the best of Virat Kohli, AB De Villiers, and Marcus Stoinis off consecutive deliveries. He was the third-highest wicket taker in the whole tournament, falling behind only Imran Tahir and Kagiso Rabada, both of whom are foreign and well-established international players. Gopal deserved the Emerging Player Award, but biased Kolkata Knight Riders fans got Shubman Gill the award. The award should be decided by unbiased panelists, or the real deserving players will never get what they deserve.
So that is it for the analysis of the Rajasthan Royals. Hopefully they will do better next season. They need to build the team well and focus on getting players who are in good form and who can take up responsibility to perform.