Retained: Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson, Krishnappa Gowtham, Aryaman Birla, Shreyas Gopal, S. Midhun, Stuart Binny, Prashant Chopra, Rahul Tripathi, Steve Smith, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer, Ish Sodhi, Dhawal Kulkarni, Mahipal Lomror.
Released: D’Arcy Short, Ben Laughlin, Heinrich Klaasen, Dane Paterson, Zaheer Khan, Dushmantha Chameera, Jaydev Unadkat, Anureet Singh, Ankit Sharma, Jatin Saxena.
Salary cap available: ₹ 20.95 cr
Available slots: 9 (Indian 6, Overseas 3)
Rajasthan Royals had an eventful season last year when they beat Mumbai Indians to finish 4th in the league. However, they lost in the playoffs against Kolkata Knight Riders. The two departments that they underperformed in was hard-hitting and fast-bowling. Even after having seasoned batsmen, they lacked the firepower. This fact was evident in the playoff match when even after losing only 4 wickets they failed lost by a huge margin of 25 runs.
This season, they released as many as ten players. The highlight among them has to be the Saurashtra bowler Jaydev Unadkat, who they bought for Rs. 11.5 last season. The fast-bowler seemed to struggle to perform well in 2018 IPL, most probably due to the pressures of the hefty price tag.
The upcoming 2019 IPL auction will be crucial for the franchise, especially considering their serious deficiencies.
#1. Alex Hales
Alex Hales has developed a reputation as a T20 specialist, having amassed over 5,000 runs in some 101 T20 matches. The English opener was released by SRH in the Transfer window recently.
In IPL 2018, Hales was a replacement for the outgoing David Warner. He got to play just six games for Sunrisers where Hales scored 148 runs. Nonetheless, those numbers depict a story that is far from reality.
Hales is the go-to man for England when it comes to the T20 format of cricket. He had hit a blazing 171 in the match against Pakistan when England had posted a record 444 runs. His stock has risen over the last few years and can be the next rich baby of IPL auctions.
In Hales, Royals would find that firepower that had been letting them down for so long. Hales would also provide the perfect partnership to a tranquil Ajinkya Rahane. Moreover, Alex has been a regular member in the national side for T20s, not for the longer formats of the game. Thus, he would be one of the few players to play in the IPL till the end – another important factor why he should be bought.
#2. Carlos Brathwaite
Carlos Brathwaite scripted T20 history when he scored four consecutive sixes in the 2016 T20 World Cup final. Even though he couldn’t regain that hot form again for the national side, he has gone on to feature in most private leagues across the world. And he has been pretty useful as an all-rounder in those competitions.
His all-rounding skills are what make him a lucrative buy for the Rajasthan Royals. Last season, in the limited number of opportunities that he got, Brathwaite still shone brightly. In four matches, Carlos amassed 75 runs with an average of 25.00. He also had a decent strike-rate of 156.25. Along with that, he also went on to grab 5 wickets.
For RR, he could not only reduce the burden on the established fast-bowlers but could also hit some helpful knocks towards the business end of the innings. Carlos Brathwaite thus becomes the ideal player Rajasthan Royals should buy this IPL auction.
#3. Brendon McCullum
Brendon McCullum needs no introduction. He is the first player in the history of IPL to score a century and a 150. The aggressive opener believes in the ‘hit first, think later’ philosophy. Like Alex Hales, he could also provide the much-needed aggression in batting. However, unlike Hales, the New Zealander brings one major aspect of the play to the table – experience. McCullum has been in the league for over 10 years of experience. Throughout this time, he has collected 2881 runs at a strike rate of 131.61. Before the 2018 season, he has been consistently scoring above 300 runs per seasons.
Thus, if given more time, Brendon McCullum can do wonders for Royals unlike Bangalore, who used him sporadically. ((He got only 6 matches to play for RCB)
At the least, he could prove to be an able backup option for Jos Buttler who will most probably leave the Royals in the second half of the tournament.
#4. Axar Patel
Another all-rounder that Rajasthan Royals should set their eyes on in upcoming 2019 IPL Auction is Axar Patel. The fiery spinner had to part ways with Kings XI Punjab after 5 years of association.
It is not the form but anxiety over Axar Patel’s injury that might have fended Punjab off from retaining him this time around. Howbeit, Axar still remains a decisive player with tons of IPL experience. He could not only bring a quality left-arm off-spin for RR but also prove to be a vital addition in the lower-batting order.
#5. Mohammed Shami
An Indian pacer that Rajasthan Royals should go all-out to buy is Mohammed Shami. Shami was released by Delhi Capitals earlier last month after an ineffective 2018 season. Injuries and personal problems were probably the reasons for an underperforming IPL season.
Sham still remains arguably the best Indian pacer in the upcoming IPL auction. He is fitter again and has recently also started to play for India again after a brief sabbatical. Having released Jaydev Unadkat, this is the fast-bowler that Royals should be targeting.
Shami has decent pace and can bring good variations to his deliveries. Also, he is better suited to the flat pitches of South Africa, where IPL could most probably be shifted this season.