After a disappointing season in the UAE – where Rajasthan finished at the bottom of the table – the Royals have made some substantial changes to their squad ahead of the new season. Kumar Sangakkara has been named as their new director of cricket and Sanju Samson is their new captain after they decided to release Steve Smith after last season. In addition to that, Rajasthan went all-in on Chris Morris in the auction to complement Jofra Archer with the ball and provide some hitting down the order. Unfortunately, the Royals will be without their star man Archer for the first half of the season as he is currently recovering from an injury. Nevertheless, the Royals do look like a more balanced side this season and will be hoping to string together a few wins before Archer joins the team in a few weeks and make a push for the play-offs.
With Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler likely to open together for the first time, the Royals have an incredibly exciting opening partnership that could be extremely destructive. A top three of Buttler, Stokes and Samson could be extremely fun to watch and makes Rajasthan a much more dangerous outfit considering that they do also bat quite deep with Archer, Morris and Tewatia in the lower order.
Chris Morris coming in also adds great value to this team particularly when it comes to death bowling. Morris was incredibly successful at the death last season for RCB and a combination of Morris and Archer at the death will be incredibly effective in the latter half of the season.
While they have two of the best overseas pacers in Morris and Archer, and two decent back-ups in Andrew Tye and Mustafizur, their Indian pace department is quite weak. Jaydev Unadkat had an economy of 9.9 last season in the IPL and while the likes of Kartik Tyagi and Akash Singh are promising youngsters, they are both still incredibly inexperienced at this level.
Another area of concern for the Royals is their Indian middle-order options. The Royals have released Robin Uthappa and apart from Sanju Samson, their Indian batting looks incredibly thin. Shivam Dube and Mahipal Lomror are expected to take the middle order spots but both of them average less than 20 in their IPL career so far at a strike rate of less than 125.
Player to watch out for: Liam Livingstone
With Jofra Archer missing the opening few games of the tournament due to injury, Rajasthan could change their combination and play an extra overseas batsman in the form of Liam Livingstone. The Englishman had an incredibly successful Big Bash season with the Perth Scorchers and could be a high-upside explosive option for the Royals in the middle order.
Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson, Mahipal Lomror, Shivam Dube, Chris Morris, Rahul Tewatia, Jofra Archer, Shreyas Gopal, Kartik Tyagi, Jaydev Unadkat