Updated: May 29
IPL 2023: Another heartbreaking season for Rajasthan Royals after a promising start. Rajasthan finish at no. 5 in points table. Yashasvi Jaiswal (625 runs) had a breakthrough season.
After an amazing 2022 season in the Indian Premier League (IPL) where they finished just a foot short of title glory, Rajasthan Royals (RR) ended their IPL 2023 campaign with a series of narrow defeats and some surprising tactics at the business end of the tournament.
Their smart planning in the mini-auction helped them in strengthening their squad little more besides pushing their boundaries in using a few lesser-known players. But the moment they lost five of their six games in the middle of the season, it was near impossible to make a comeback in an edition that was fought so closely.
From promising start to late slip-ups, RR suffered tragic end
The best thing that occurred for Rajasthan was the availability of their core group of most of their Indian and international players which meant unlike some of the other few franchises, they began their IPL campaign with a strong side. And they showed promise in their very first game defeating hosts Sunrisers Hyderabad by a huge 72-run margin. Even though, they got out of track by a narrow 5-run margin against Punjab Kings, their three back-to-back wins put them in a comfortable situation.
The tournament reached the halfway stage as suddenly Rajasthan faced a royal crumble. In their next six fixtures, they lost five vital games and couple of them against Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) were by small margins. The defeat because of the last ball no-ball against SRH at home was a strong punch in their journey as they found themselves in a must win situation.
Due to their huge defeat by 112 runs against RCB, Rajasthan not only needed to win their last game but they also had to polish their net run rate and still they had to hope that few results would go in their favour. Even though they defeated Punjab Kings in their last encounter, the victory by Mumbai Indians against SRH, saw RR getting knocked out.
Let’s take a look at few positives for RR in IPL 2023
Young and energetic Jaiswal showed immense potential
In a batting line-up that was coloured with the likes of Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson and Shimron Hetmyer, it was young Yashasvi Jaiswal who set the competition on fire. One of his brightest features throughout the whole season has been the aggressive intent from the very first over besides showing pure maturity to covert his starts into some fabulous knocks, unlike the last season.
The icing on the cake was setting a new all-time fastest IPL half-century record by this 21-year-old in just 13 balls against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and the story of him recording 625 runs in 14 innings at an average of 48.08 and strike rate of 163.61 with the help of 82 boundaries and 26 sixes in this season was nothing short of early signs of greatness. This also turned out to be the best season returns for an uncapped player in the history of this tournament.
Dhruv Jurel played impactful knocks at vital situations
The name Dhruv Jurel wasn’t much known in the cricketing world before this IPL but he has proved his worth for RR in this season. In his very first game where he cracked an important 10-ball 18 run knock, Jurel made his intentions purely clear. Promoting him as the finisher was a huge decision that RR took and with every game, the 22-year-old grew in confidence.
Jurel’s return of 152 runs in 11 innings at a strike rate of 172.73 in this season was just a tiny sample of his calibre. His two 34-run knocks in 15 and 16 balls, respectively, besides a 4-ball 10 run innings fittingly sealed RR’s final win of the season.
Yuzvendra Chahal continued to fox batters with his mystery
The most constant development for Rajasthan Royals has been the rise of Yuzvendra Chahal, the purple cap holder of the last season in 2022 with 27 wickets in 17 games at an economy of 7.75. He stretched that good form even in this season finishing with 21 wickets in 14 games at an economy rate of 8.17.
Even though there were few games where Chahal was smashed all over the park besides going wicketless, the fact that he still has been foxing the opponents with his variety of deliveries can’t go unnoticed. The cherry on the cake was him becoming the highest wicket-taker in IPL history with 187 wickets in 145 games at an economy of 7.67.
But even after these positives for the Royals, there were few drawbacks that hurt them on many occasions during this season. Let’s take a look at few of those downsides.
A tale of two halves for struggling Samson and Buttler
One of the main reasons for Rajasthan Royals to find themselves as the defending champions in IPL 2022 was the excellent form of Jos Buttler who cracked 863 runs in 17 games at an average of 57.53 and strike rate of 149.05 including four fifties and four centuries, while their captain Sanju Samson smacked 458 runs at a strike rate of 146.79.
Both of them began in the same fashion during this season in 2023 but suddenly after the first half, their season went downwards. Buttler’s 392 runs in 14 games of this season including five ducks at an average of 28 and strike rate of 139.01 might point a decent season for him but breaking down these runs will turn the table. It’s almost the same for Sanju Samson who finished IPL 2023 with 362 runs in 14 games at an average of 30.17 and strike rate of 153.39. Even though his stats were not that bad in the second half, Samson’s struggle to post those big knocks hurt Rajasthan badly.
Let’s scan the numbers of both of them in two parts of the season:
Injury and non-availability of their pace bowling resources
One of the biggest reasons for Rajasthan Royals to do well in the last season was the wicket-taking ability of Prasidh Krishna who kept on bowling in those vital phases of the game during the powerplay and death overs, finishing with 19 wickets in 17 games. But his injury pushed RR backwards in IPL 2023. They went for Sandeep Sharma in this season who did a decent job with 10 wickets in 12 games but he wasn’t consistent throughout the whole season.
Kuldeep Sen didn’t play many games either, while Trent Boult after starting the season on a high missed a fair amount of games because of injury. Boult finished the season with 13 wickets in 10 games at an economy of 8.21 but because he was effective with the new ball, bowling most of his overs in the first six overs, RR struggled to find balance in the death overs.
Obed McCoy too arrived late in the IPL while Mohmmad Asif even after playing a handful of the games didn’t do much.
Tactical errors and wrestle to find a proper all-rounder
Statistically, RR missed out on the playoffs berth by just a solitary win and when one puts microscope on the number of close finishes they had in the defeats, it could have gone either way.
One of the areas where RR struggled was balancing the team with a proper all-rounder; even though they picked up Jason Holder in the auction, the West Indies player wasn’t at his best in this season. The management didn’t display much confidence on his batting either, pegging him much lower in the batting order.
They also persisted little more with Riyan Parag who even after such a successful domestic season across formats hasn’t produced a breakthrough season after years of promise. He got enough chances but the results never came. Another department where they lacked was the four overseas players slot. Even though they wanted to play Adam Zampa, their hands were tied up.
The quality of the individuals in the side propelled them to the brink of qualification but they made one mistake too many. Therefore, Rajasthan will look to work on few of these areas in the next season and fill up the gaps to come back stronger next season with an aim to earn their second IPL trophy after a long wait of 16 years.