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IPL 2021: Smith could be sacrificed as Rajasthan regroup

Steve Smith and Jos Buttler
Steve Smith and Jos Buttler
©Rajasthan Royals
 

Despite the luxury of being able to field some of the most successful players in world cricket, Rajasthan Royals failed to make any impact at the most recent edition of the IPL. In fact, this talented squad finished at the very bottom of the table and therefore failed to make it into the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

 

As the franchises begin their preparations for the 12th edition of the biggest domestic T20 tournament in the world, Rajasthan need to improve and reports suggest that they are about to make a very big call.

 

Goodbye Skipper

While Australia’s Steve Smith started the 2020 IPL brightly enough, his loss of form towards the end of the group stages rather mirrored the Royals’ dip in form. The former Aussie captain isn’t an explosive hitter but it would be wrong to suggest that he can’t move through the gears and accelerate when required.

A perfect illustration of his value to the team came in Rajasthan’s very first game of the tournament. In partnership with the more dynamic Sanju Samson, Smith blasted his way to 69 from 47 balls as the Royals compiled an unassailable 216/7 against Chennai.

As captain of the side, Steve Smith took responsibility again as Rajasthan chased down Kings XI’s imposing target of 223 in the second match. His 50 came off just 27 balls but from that point, it all became a struggle.

With IPL 12 some 12 weeks away and the auction fast approaching, Rajasthan Royals need to address that slump to the bottom of the standings and it appears that Smith may have to give way.

 

Royals Rated

Rajasthan fans are offered little hope in the outright betting markets for this season’s Indian Premier League. Current odds from cricket betting markets linked to Arabianbetting.com show that the Royals carry the longest price of all eight franchises and they are the rank outsiders ahead of the tournament.

Just ahead in seventh place are Kings XI Punjab while Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals are battling it out for favouritism at the top of the market.

Following the auction and in the days leading up to the 2021 IPL, Arabianbetting.com will continue to update those odds. While the figures may alter, it seems unlikely that Rajasthan Royals will be shooting up the list but the site will also provide news and opinions that may help prospective bettors to come to a conclusion.

 

Striking a Balance

If Steve Smith is dropped by Rajasthan he can consider himself as unlucky to an extent. He’ll surely be picked up by another squad but within the Royals’ franchise, he’s something of a victim of circumstance.

Like any franchise at the IPL, the Royals can field up to four overseas picks and, in the English trio of Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Jos Buttler, they have three of the most highly sought after limited overs players in the game. Even when one of those men suffers a loss of form, it’s tough to justify leaving them out of the starting XI as they always have the capacity to turn a match very quickly.

Smith, on the other hand, needs to keep scoring at a high rate to justify his inclusion. At IPL 11, his subdued displays with the bat didn’t cost him his place but there were calls for the captain to be replaced. With the explosive South African David Miller left in the dugout, many felt that the Royals missed an opportunity by keeping Smith in the side.

 

Stepping Up

Rajasthan’s cause wasn’t helped as the consistent Ajinkya Rahane crossed to the Delhi Capitals. His replacement, Robin Uthappa, brought plenty of experience but not enough runs to justify being an automatic pick. Sanju Samson also needed to add consistency to his game after falling away after that prolific start to the tournament.

Ultimately, Steve Smith may pay the price for Rajasthan Royals’ poor season and it’s easy to see why the franchise might want to move on. However, the remaining overseas contingent and the domestic players within the squad will need to step up if the Royals are to make good on the undoubted potential within this unit.

©cricket World 2021


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