New Delhi, Apr 7 (PTI) A restructured Rajasthan Royals will aim to build a new legacy but a weak Indian contingent and overdependence on foreign recruits could hurt the inaugural edition winners' chance for glory in the upcoming IPL.
Last season's wooden spooners, RR have made some changes in management as well as the squad ahead of the new season. Sanju Samson replaced Australian Steve Smith, who was released, as skipper while coach Andrew McDonald has also gone with Sri Lankan legend Kumar Sangakarra stepping in as director of cricket.
To strengthen their pace attack which was heavily dependent on Jofra Archer, RR bought South African all-rounder Chris Morris for a whopping Rs 16.25 crore, making him the most expensive buy in the IPL auction history.
However, an injury to Archer, who was adjudged the league's Most Valuable Player last season, ruling him out of at least the first few games, is a massive blow.
Here's is a SWOT analysis of the side that will take on Punjab Kings in Mumbai on April 12.
STRENGTH: RR boast of a number of destructive batsmen. Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes are two match-winning players who can trample any opposition while Samson is a minefield of talent.
South Africans David Miller and Morris are two other powerful strikers and England's T20 specialist Liam Livingstone can turn the match on its head. Last season's revelation, all-rounder Rahul Tewatia, has also showcased his ability to whack the ball outside the park.
With Sangakkara on their side, the Royals have got one of the most astute brains. The Sri Lankan veteran has tons of cricketing experience to offer.
WEAKNESS: For Royals, the problem is their weak Indian core which hasn't been consistent. Samson has rarely performed in five straight games in any of the editions in the past few years. Pacer Jaydev Unadkat, bought for Rs 11.5 crore in 2018, has been unable to deliver while Manan Vohra has been brilliant only on rare occasions.
This leaves the team with youngsters, including Riyan Parag and pacer Kartik Tyagi, who has shown flashes of brilliance, Yashasvi Jaiswal and pacer Kartik Tyagi, who was also impressive.
The Royals have an affinity to spend huge bucks on players and apart from Stokes, most of them have not paid dividends.
OPPORTUNITY: Samson's form and consistency have always been a question mark. He has failed to capitalised on the handful of chances provided to him in T20Is. With Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan doing brilliantly on their T20 debuts, the Kerala wicketkeeper batsman's chances to make the Indian team for the World Cup have taken a hit.
This is the perfect opportunity for him to prove his leadership skills and a good, consistent performance with the bat will significantly strengthen his case for selection for the two upcoming T20 World Cups.
THREAT: With Samson at the helm, his lack of experience in the role and the impact that it might have on his batting are factors that must be taken into account. The flamboyant right-hander may not be able to play with the same freedom now that he has the tag of captain next to his name. His inexperience might also cost the Royals dearly in crunch situations.
The team won matches on the back of some brilliant individual performances but struggled to work as a cohesive unit last season. Consistency will be the key.
The team is heavily dependent on Archer. While they have Morris to rely on, the pace attack seems weak in the 26-year-old England pacer's absence. The franchise would desperately hope Archer joins the side at the earliest.
With a weak Indian contingent, comprising several rookies and overreliance on their foreign recruits, there is real threat the Royals would once again not qualify for the playoffs.
Squad: Sanju Samson (c & wk), Jos Buttler (wk), Ben Stokes, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Manan Vohra, Anuj Rawat, Riyan Parag, David Miller, Rahul Tewatia, Mahipal Lomror, Shreyas Gopal, Mayank Markande, Jofra Archer, Andrew Tye, Jaydev Unadkat, Kartik Tyagi, Shivam Dube, Chris Morris, Mustafizur Rahman, Chetan Sakariya, KC Cariappa, Liam Livingstone, Kuldip Yadav, Akash Singh. PTI APA AH AH