IPL 2023 Rajasthan Royals Preview
After a few years in the IPL wilderness, Rajasthan Royals returned to form last season to reach the final. We preview their chances of going one better in 2023.
Rajasthan Royals Review of IPL 2022
Let's start with obvious highlight for the double Rs in IPL 2022, the form of Jos Buttler. Buttler has been part of the Rajasthan set-up for several seasons but had been moved up and down the order in what was generally a top heavy batting line-up. However, 2022 finally saw the franchise settle him back in as an opener and he delivered an unforgettable season.
As far as records go, Buttler's 2022 exploits read as follows
- 2nd most runs in an IPL season (863 runs)
- Equal 1st most centuries in an IPL season (4)
- The most boundaries (4s & 6s) in an IPL season (128)
- Only Chris Gayle has scored more 6s in a single IPL season, Buttler hit 45
The back-up to Buttler wasn't too bad either. Shimron Hetmyer in particular established himself as one of the best finishers in the world. He only got to face 204 balls in last season's IPL but made them count with 314 runs at a strike rate of 154.
Captain Sanju Samson passed the 400 run mark in a fairly typical season. There are moments when he looks like a player of rare talent given the array of shots he possesses and the amount of time with which he has to play them and then others where he frustrates by giving his wicket away. Generally RR will hope for more match winning innings from their skipper in 2023 after he passed 50 just twice last season.
As the stats below show, it wasn't just with bat that Rajasthan dominated the early part of matches, Trent Boult and Prasidh Krishna both took 10 powerplay wickets a piece and between them went at economy of under 7 while the field restrictions were in place. The pair between them also recorded the most dot balls of any bowlers in the competition.
That then allowed Ashwin and Chahal to put the squeeze on throughout the middle overs. Ashwin was the more economical but Chahal the more threatening as he claimed the purple cap with 27 wickets in the tournament.
The only real weaknesses in the squad last year were
- The length of Rajasthan's tail with Trent Boult generally batting at 8
- The lack of a genuine number 4 batsman with Padikkal shoe horned into an unfamiliar role
- The struggle to find a 5th bowling option
The form of Buttler and the 4 bolwers noted above generally helped to gloss over these issues but you feel that Rajasthan will need to strengthen in these areas if they are to have a successful IPL 2023.
Rajasthan Royals key IPL 2022 stats relative to all other franchises
Rajasthan Royals IPL 2023 Auction
It was no great surprise that the Royals looked to bring in players to cover the weaknesses highlighted above.
They succeeded in signing Jason Holder who will certainly help to lengthen their batting while he also has a happy knack of picking up wickets towards the back end of the innings.
They bid for the likes of Harry Brook and Nicolas Pooran, presumably to help fill the number 4 spot but were ultimately beaten to their signatures by sides with a biger purse. While either would have strengthen their middle order, it would have left them with a potentially difficult choice in regards their overseas options.
They did bring in Joe Root for a significantly cheaper price than either of their first choice options and while the former England skipper has shown his ability to build innings in white ball cricket, he lacks the power game necessary to bat outside the top 3.
Elsewhere it was a case of bringing in back-up options with Rajasthan generally going for experienced campaigners who if called upon should be able to do a job. Adam Zampa, KM Asif and Murugan Ashwin have all been around both the IPL and T20 cricket for plenty of years.
As for younger cricketers, Donovan Ferreira has shown glimpses of his talent but had a very difficult SA20 season and everyone else RR brought in were local but very inexperienced cricketers who will hope that the chance to rub shoulders with some global superstars will aid them in their career going forward.
Rajasthan Royals Predicted XI IPL 2023
Jos Buttler will open, that much is a given but the Royals do have some options as to who will partner their star man at the top of the order.
For the most part, it was Yashasvi Jaiswal who opened with Buttler last season and the young left-hander is coming off the back of a very impressive domestic season. Earlier this month he hit 2 massive centuries (213 & 144) in the Irani Cup representing the Rest of India having also hit a hundred for India-A earlier this year.
Those exploits in the 4 day game also follow runs in limited overs cricket. In the 50 over format he hit 2 hundreds and 2 half centuries in 6 innings for Mumbai during the Vijay Hazare Trophy and also contributed to a very strong side in the T20 tournament as well.
Jaiswal's Vijay Hazare Trophy stats 2022. In fact, he's delivered excellent performances in all 3 formats during the off-season
Jaiswal has shown glimpses of that talent in the IPL but Rajasthan will be keen for him to make more of those match winnings knocks this season and take the pressue off Buttler to deliver every time.
The alternative would be to put Devdutt Padikkal in to his more natural role as an opener. His form in the 2021 IPL was good enough to win him a couple of caps for India in T20 cricket but he struggled to find a natural pace to his innings when coming in at number 4 which is where he played most of debut season for Rajasthan.
He's a talented cricketer and I'd expect him to improve in IPL 2023. Also don't be surprised to see Rajasthan mix things up a bit with their batting line-up. Last season the Royals showed that they were willing to be flexible and think outside the box and with the new substitute rule coming into play, it'll be interesting to see what they come up with this season to catch the opposition off guard.
Sanju Samson impressed as captain last season and obviously benefitted from having some very experienced heads around him in the likes of Buttler, Ashwin and Boult. It feels like Samson has been around forever himself but he's still only 28-year-old and perhaps as a batsman just coming into his prime.
There is a languid grace to Samson's ball striking which makes him one of the most enjoyable players to watch in world cricket when he's in form
He spent the off season in and around the India white ball teams with a single appearance for both the ODI and T20 sides. If he's going to force his way into the reckoning for the World Cup later this year then he'll need to have a really big IPL. His best chance of international recognition may come as a keeper batsman with Rishabh Pant out injured. My concern is the workload of captaining the Royals, keeping wicket and batting number 3 might have a negative impact on his primary role as a run scorer. Might RR move him down the order this season?
In previous seasons, I've not been very impressed with Shimron Hetmyer (I think I've described him as little more than a haircut and fancy pair of trainers in the past) but he has certainly matured over the last 18 months. His runs at the back end of the innings for Rajasthan were absolutely crucial and his contributions incredibly consistent for a player generally coming in with very little time to settle.
Hetmeyer's record at the death in IPL 2022. He was the 2nd highest run scorer during the final 5 overs last season
The same can't really be said for Riyan Parag who has been given a lot of opportunities by the Royals (47 IPL appearances to date) but is yet to truly show his talent. He has had a strong domestic campaign for Assam where he generally bats number 4 and you wonder if Rajasthan will be tempted to shift him a little higher up the order particularly given that they play their opening 2 matches of the 2023 IPL season at Parag's home venue.
Parag does bring more than just his batting to the side. He is a useful bowler and in fact has been taking on greater responsibility with the ball as demonstrated by the fact that he bowled more overs for Assam in the Syed Mustaq Ali trophy than any other bowler. He is also an excellent fielder and took 17 catches for the Royals in last season's IPL.
Jason Holder should bat at 7 and does help solve a couple of the issues that the Royals had last season. He is a more than useful lower order hitter and does have a happy knack of picking up wickets.
With Prasidh Krishna ruled out for the season, Holder may also get the opportunity to do a bit ore bowling in the powerplay than he has in recent IPL seasons and of course he only adds to that strong leadership group mentioned above.
The loss of Prasidh Krishna is a major blow to Rajasthan's chances in IPL 2023. He bowled brilliantly in tandem with Trent Boult last year and the Royals will struggle to replace his consistency.
The most obvious men to fill the void will be Kulpdeep Sen and Navdeep Saini. Both have genuine pace on their side and they took wickets when called upon last year but both did so at a fairly significant cost.
Kuldeep Sen's 18 wickets in just 6 Vijay Hazare Trophy matches earned him a call up to the India team
Kuldeep Sen has been taking wickets for fun in the domestic 50 over matches to the extent that he was handed his first cap for India at the end of last year. He took 2 wickets on debut but again went for a few runs. With the experience and quality of the Rajasthan bowling attack that might not be too big a problem if Sen can keep the wickets coming.
Of course, spin was such a key factor for Rajasthan Royals last season and Ashwin and Chahal will be looking to dominate opposition sides once again. Chahal looks to have established himself as India's first choice white ball wrist spinner but with so many others competing for that role, he knows from experience that you can't rest on your laurels. Meanwhile, Ashwin is fresh off the back of tormenting Australia's batsmen in the Test series. He hasn't played a 50 over match for India for over 12 months but must have his sights set on a World Cup birth and will need a strong IPL to cement his place.
Rajasthan Royals IPL 2023 Predictions
When I sat down and started planning these posts over a month ago, I actually had the Royals down as favourites to win IPL 2023. They didn't do anything particularly exciting in the auction but then they didn't have to. Instead they made a couple of smart buys that strengthened areas of the side that had proven an achilles heal last year.
The squad in general has a good balance to it as well as a nice mix of youth and experience. Rajasthan will be hoping that the likes of Jaiswal, Padikkal and Sen, all of whom have impressed at times during the early parts of their career can have defining IPL seasons in 2023.
The acquisitions of Jason Holder, Joe Root and Adam Zampa only add to what was already a strong leadership group at the Royals who have adopted a culture of innovation on the cricket pitch that last season paid dividends.
I still think they'll be a very strong outfit and that they will make the playoffs but the recent injury to Prasidh Krishna that looks set to rule him out of IPL 2023 is a major blow. His accuracy, economy and wicket taking ability were a big factor in last season's success and there isn't a like for like swap in the Rajasthan squad.
Predicted Finish: 2nd
All stats used in this blog are from my own database which is freely accessible at T20 head to head. Images are my own with the exception of player profiles and background images which are used under a creative commons license or otherwise royalty free
Thank you for participating in the #teamuk curated tag. We have upvoted your quality content.
For more information visit our discord https://discord.gg/8CVx2Am