Can Rajasthan Royals finally level up?

IPL 2024

Will the Royals be able to do deliver on their promise?

It's the 17th season of the Indian Premier League, and Rajasthan Royals still have to settle with the glory of the inaugural year. The perennial underdogs and the perennial underachievers would much rather be the perennial big bullies of the big league. For that though, they have been too inconsistent.

A road to the final in 2022 promised a long-term peak, but despite retaining their core, they couldn't emulate that dominance last year. Nonetheless, over the last two seasons, the extent of Rajasthan Royals' weaknesses and strengths were tested. When all the players were in form, like in 2022, they could put up incredible performances with the quality options they possessed in both batting and bowling. When not, the limitations and absence of depth in both departments came exposed, like the last season - where despite quality, they often fell short.

A swap to bring in Avesh Khan in place of Devdutt Padikkal has further strengthened their pace bowling department, but that wasn't the biggest of their concerns. They have left the batting a bit vulnerable without adequate backups. They couldn't do much to beef up the batting muscle in their bowling department either at the latest auction. However, they added a few explosive batters to provide some firepower in their lower middle order hopefully.

Where they've finished in this cycle: 2022: Finalist, 2023: 5th

Key additions: Rovman Powell, Shubham Dubey, Avesh Khan, Nandre Burger

Key subtractions: Jason Holder, Devdutt Padikkal, Joe Root

Full Squad:

Abid Mushtaq, Adam Zampa, Avesh Khan, Dhruv Jurel, Donovan Ferreira, Jos Buttler, Kuldeep Sin, Kunal Singh Rathore, Nandre Burger, Navdeep Saini, Prasidh Krishna, Ravichandran Ashwin, Riyan Parag, Sandeep Sharma, Sanju Samson, Shimron Hetmyer, Shubham Dubey, Rovman Powell, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Trent Boult, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Yuzvendra Chahal

One stat from last year they'll want to remedy

Rajasthan Royals missed the passage to the playoffs by just one spot last season. A good reason for that was their underwhelming performance in Jaipur, where they lost four out of five games. The Sawai Mansingh Stadium, which had served as their fortress till 2018 - winning 29 out of 35 games - had become a tough venue to ace for the squad that was assembled post-2019 mega auction. In fact, till 2013, they boasted a win percentage of 72.72 - the most by any team at their main home venue. In 2019, 2022, and 2023 - the remaining three years when they played in Jaipur, their win record at the venue dropped to 47.37. They would hope to get their mojo back in what was once their 'fortress'.

One to watch:

Shubham Dubey: The 29-year-old southpaw from Vidarbha may have been a late bloomer, but he has made a strong impact in domestic cricket with his big-hitting prowess since making his domestic debut two years ago. His ability to be able to hit big shots right from the outset under pressure makes him a rare player in the Indian domestic circuit. Not surprisingly, Rajasthan Royals were willing to stretch to INR 5.8 Crore in the bidding war for his services. With Shimron Hetmyer coming into the tournament at the back of poor form and Riyan Parag yet to give a strong account of his abilities in the IPL - despite his domestic exploits - Dubey could be the power-hitting answer that Royals have been searching for, for many seasons in their lower middle order.

Injuries and availability:

One of the advantages for Rajasthan Royals most of the players in their squad are fit and will be available for the entire duration of the tournament. Prasidh Krishna is the only player who has been ruled out of the tournament with an injury, but there is adequate backup in the pace department to cover up for his absence.

Possible XI and potential Impact Player tactic:

Yashasvi Jaiswal, Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson, Shimron Hetmyer, Dhruv Jurel, Rovman Powell, Riyan Parag/Shubham Dubey, R Ashwin, Avesh Khan, Navdeep Saini/Sandeep Sharma, Trent Boult, Yuzvendra Chahal

From the names mentioned above, Yashasvi Jaiswal or Shimron Hetmyer could be brought in as the Impact Player when RR are bowling first. And if they are batting first, Yuzvendra Chahal could come into the XI as the Impact Player in the second innings.