Where did RR Go Wrong this IPL: The Rajasthan Royals (RR) commenced their 2023 Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign in a splendid manner, emerging victorious in four out of their first five matches and swiftly climbing to the top of the rankings.
Prior to the season, few could have foreseen the unfortunate turn of events for RR. Even halfway through the league phase, they were considered strong contenders for the championship. What led to their unexpected struggles? Let’s explore the three primary reasons behind RR’s hardships in IPL 2023.
Reason #3: Scarcity of Quality All-rounders
During IPL 2022, RR faced a major hurdle with a lack of players capable of bridging the gap between their batting and bowling departments. However, they managed to reach the final thanks to remarkable individual performances.
This time around, Rajasthan seemed to have addressed the issue with the shrewd acquisition of Jason Holder during the auction, as well as the emergence of talented young domestic all-rounders like Riyan Parag and Akash Vashisht, who displayed potential contributions in both facets of the game.
Unfortunately, things did not unfold as expected. Holder’s utilization was poor, leading to his eventual exclusion from the team, and Parag failed to deliver consistently, meeting a similar fate. Meanwhile, players like Vashisht were not given enough opportunities.
Consequently, RR suffered from a significant shortage of quality all-rounders in their squad, complicating matters further.
Reason #2: Ineffective Utilization of the Impact Player Rule
The impact player rule introduced in IPL 2023 has diminished the influence of all-rounders. Teams now have the flexibility to include additional specialists at the expense of an all-rounder. Surprisingly, RR failed to capitalize on this provision.
The Royals frequently opted for a lineup consisting of only five specialist bowlers, leaving no room for maneuvering in that department. Strangely, they hesitated to take advantage of the additional buffer provided by an impact player, thereby limiting their flexibility in both batting and bowling.
Players such as Kuldeep Sen, Navdeep Saini, Kuldip Yadav, Murugan Ashwin, and Abdul Basith were granted only one or two opportunities as impact players. Moreover, regular players like Devdutt Padikkal and Parag were utilized in various roles.
RR had the chance to address their all-rounder deficiency through the astute utilization of impact players, but their efforts in this regard have been highly unsuccessful.
Reason #1: Underperformance of Key Players
How did RR manage to reach the final in IPL 2022 despite these shortcomings? It can largely be attributed to exceptional performances from Jos Buttler and Yuzvendra Chahal.
Buttler secured the Orange Cap with his remarkable batting displays, while Chahal outshone competitors to claim the Purple Cap for the most wickets. Additionally, players like Sanju Samson and Shimron Hetmyer made significant contributions throughout the season.
However, IPL 2023 has presented a different scenario. Buttler has struggled to find form, and Chahal has endured periods of inconsistency. Prasidh Krishna, a key bowler from the previous year, has been absent due to injury. Samson and Hetmyer have also failed to perform consistently, which has severely impacted the team.
The combined lack of productivity from their star players and the failure of newer faces, except for Yashasvi Jaiswal, to rise to the occasion have dealt a significant blow to RR this season.