IPL 2020

How to solve Rajasthan Royals’ middle order crisis?

Rajasthan Royals have made a great start to the 13th edition of the IPL. No one expected them to challenge for the trophy, but they’ve won 2 out of the first 3 matches and are currently in the 3rd position on the table. One of the primary reasons why they are performing above the expected level is Sanju Samson.

The Kerala-born batsman has already bagged two man of the match awards and was instrumental in both their wins. Another batsman who has been among the runs for RR is captain Steve Smith. He has also scored two half-centuries this season. Moreover, he has been opening for RR this season, something he had never done earlier in his career. That makes it even more commendable.

Jos Buttler missed the first game due to self-quarantine. He has played the last two games for RR but hasn’t been able to hit the ball as sweetly as he has been hitting for the previous 2 seasons. Having said that, there is no doubt in my mind that Jos Buttler will score a lot of runs for them this season. That means that they have a settled core of 3 world-class batsmen. But what after that?

Ben Stokes was a vital cog in their middle order for the last two seasons but has been unavailable so far due to some personal issues. This has left RR’s batting order looking very top-heavy. In their 3rd match against KKR, the game was lost as soon as Buttler, Samson, and Smith were dismissed. This is a worrying sign for the Royals if they want to progress to the latter stages of the tournament.

PLAYERRUNS SCOREDBALLS FACEDAVERAGESTRIKE RATE
Uthappa16205.3380
Tewatia774925.66157.14
Parag7122.3358.33
RAJASTHAN ROYALS MIDDLE-ORDER BATSMEN IN IPL 2020 AFTER 3 GAMES

The stats just solidify the fact that Rajasthan Royals have a weak middle order. Tewatia’s stats aren’t bad, but they are riding on the 5 sixes he scored in a single over against KXIP. Uthappa and Parag have had three opportunities to score runs but have failed miserably. David Miller played the first match in place of Jos Buttler and was unlucky to get run out before facing a ball.

So how do they solve the problem?

A. David Miller in for Tom Curran:

This is one of the strategies they can deploy to add some bite to their middle order. Miller can come to bat two-down after Sanju Samson and before Robin Uthappa. As he is surrounded by right-handed batsmen, he will add a lot of value with his left-handed batting.

Moreover, Miller can act as a finisher if the openers and Samson have scored a fair amount of runs. He has the perfect balance of explosiveness and composure, which is needed in the middle order.

B. Yashasvi Jaiswal in for Riyan Parag:

Riyan Parag has had some lackluster outings with the bat this season. He is used in the team as an all-rounder, but because they already have six bowling options apart from him (Archer, Curran, Unadkat, Rajpoot, Gopal, Tewatia), he has just bowled one over so far. Parag doesn’t offer as much value as a batsman compared to Yashasvi Jaiswal.

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They will have to shuffle their lineup for this plan to work. Jaiswal will have to open the innings with Buttler. Samson and Smith can bat at number 3 and number 4 (inter-changeable). Uthappa and Tewatia will follow in suit.

A lot of teams have used a young Indian batsman at the top of the innings (Padikkal at RCB, Shaw at DC, Gill at KKR), and it has worked out well. Jaiswal is a very talented cricketer and offers the left hand-right hand combination at the top of the order, which is deadly.

As far as I’m concerned, these are the best ways RR could solve their middle-order problems. We have seen how a weak middle order can limit the effectiveness of a team like RCB or SRH in the past. If RR has to reach the playoffs, they have to look into this conundrum sooner rather than later.



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