IPL 2022: Laggards of 2021 bank on bowlers for fresh start
Rajasthan Royals have put together a squad which many consider to be one of the best, at least on paper, in IPL 2022.
How good they actually are on field will be on test on Tuesday when they launch their campaign against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Pune. Rajasthan had finished in seventh place in the eight-team IPL 2021 with 10 points, four more than bottom-placed Sunrisers.
“Our main focus is to get together as soon as possible,” captain Sanju Samson said on Monday. “We have a different squad this time, some new members in the team, so it is important to come together and understand your teammates. We definitely had a lot of learning from the last two to three seasons.
“We got a good team at the auction. We have a lot of Indian and international strength. It’s a very long tournament. We need to understand the mindset and the fitness and form of all players. But we have enough options,” he said.
Samson believes the breeze at the Pune Stadium will be a crucial factor. “Pune is a different kind of ground, it’s an open ground so the wind comes into play there. Wickets will be fresh at the start of the tournament and will help the fast bowlers I believe.
“I think this format has to be played with a fearless mindset and that sort of characters are there in this team this year. So we would just like to go out there and express ourselves.”
Royals have plenty of positives starting with a solid bowling line-up. Prasidh Krishna is likely to partner Trent Boult in the Powerplay, and if they can successfully build early pressure, Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal will be there to strangle the opposition in the middle overs. James Neesham or Nathan Coulter-Nile will complete the line-up.
The Royals have also roped in Lasith Malinga as the team’s bowling coach.
“Whatever chats we had with Lasith, he makes bowling look very simple and easy and that brings a lot of clarity for every bowler in the side. He said something to me that I’ve never heard before. He said: ‘There are only two kinds of batsmen in the world — right and left-handed. You only need to learn how to bowl to only two batsmen.’ He definitely is making a lot of things easier for me as a captain. He is also helping in understanding the bowlers as to their mindset, strengths, weaknesses... he’s adding a lot to our franchise.”
Sunrisers will be without Rashid Khan for the first time since 2017 but they have all-rounder Washington Sundar to make up for his absence. There’s also the seam trio of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, T. Natarajan and Umran Malik who can trouble the batsmen with their pace and movement. Marco Jansen, the South African left-arm seamer, could be an useful new-ball partner for Bhuvneshwar.
It will be a good test for batsmen in this battle of bowlers.