Rajasthan Royals has traditionally been a breeding ground for the youngsters and has helped many players to make a International comeback. Shane Watson regained his spot in the Australian team only after his heroics in the first edition of the IPL. Yusuf Pathan , Ravindra Jadeja , Ajinkya Rahane and few more have made it to the national squad only after their performance for the Royals.Sanju Samson, after being neglected by KKR is considered to the next big thing in Indian cricket. They have had few big names in their squad and have relied on the youngsters to make it big.
This year Rajasthan Royals retained their core team in Watson, Faulkner, Rahane , Binny and Samson.The idea was loud and clear, playing the brand of cricket they have been playing for years. But there has been a lot of debate over the openers of Rajasthan Royals, with many of the experts including Harsha Bhogle feels that Watson should open. But the writer of this article feels otherwise. Here are some points to support the theory.
New ball does all in the initial overs itself. So, it is a wise option to have Watson bat in the middle , just to keep him away from the swinging ball which has troubled him in the past. Also, every team prefers their spearhead to start the innings and the Royals going for a safe option looks sensible. There is no doubt over Watson’s ability but going safe is always wise, especially when you have options available.
Cricket is a team game and team’s performance is more important than Watson’s. Watson may suit to open the innings but Royals then don’t have someone of his calibre to bat in the middle. Watson can just go and express himself from ball 1 , if given a good platform.
Rajasthan Royals have had the same strategy for the past few years and it worked wonders for them.. Dravid and Rahane setting up the innings for the likes of Watson, Binny and the rest. This year Rahane is expected to play the role of sheet anchor and Nayar will try to take off the pressure of him. Their strategy was never questioned before just because it was Dravid opening the innings. Nayar may not be in the ranks of Dravid but has been a big performer in the domestic scene along with some notable IPL performances.The fact that he is not chewing up deliveries , but just taking the requisite risk makes him a right choice.
An important factor is Watson’s bowling. He is good bowling at the death with the pace variation and yorkers and can be expected to bowl end overs. Bowling the overs and rushing to the dressing room for a change up to come to bat is something which no one enjoys. The likes of Sehwag and Watson have already expressed this before in the past. This may just hurry him and you don’t want this to happen to your main player.
Watson is the captain of the team and should encourage youngsters. Sending Samson and Nayar ahead just sends a positive message to the team . One brilliant example that stands out is Ganguly leaving the opening spot for Sehwag, at a time when Sachin- Ganguly were the most destructive and consistent opening pairs.
The strategy of a team is questioned only when they lose. Punjab, who really needs to rethink of their opening combination don’t have any questions against them. Pujara is not able to accelerate in the end overs and this has so been overshadowed by Maxwell and MIller.