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  5. How Rajasthan Royals, table-toppers at one point, suddenly fell off the cliff mid-season in IPL 2024?

How Rajasthan Royals, table-toppers at one point, suddenly fell off the cliff mid-season in IPL 2024?

Rajasthan Royals are yet to win a game in May and from looking like topping the table comfortably at one point, will now play the eliminator after finishing third in IPL 2024. The Royals have lost four matches in a row and their final league stage game was washed out and hence, they lack momentum.

Edited By: Anshul Gupta @oyegupta_ New Delhi Published on: May 20, 2024 17:09 IST
Rajasthan Royals are yet to win a game in May and will now
Image Source : BCCI/IPL Rajasthan Royals are yet to win a game in May and will now face a red-hot RCB in the Eliminator in Ahmedabad on May 20

It's not often that a team winning seven games out of the first eight and the other winning just one out of their eight face each other in the eliminator in the 2024 edition of the IPL. It has been a month of contrasting fortunes for one Royals team while the other are flying high. Who'd have thought that the Rajasthan Royals, the team which was steamrolling everyone in their way, was eager to play in the rain to get to the second place somehow having suffered four losses in a row?

The Royals are yet to win a game in May and with no Jos Buttler and questions over Shimron Hetmyer, they will not even get a second chance as they finished outside the top two. What has been the main reason behind them falling off the cliff so badly? Let's dissect-

1. Desperation to optimise impact player rule

When the 17th edition of the IPL began, Rajasthan Royals, the team that benefitted the most with the impact player rule, probably utilised it most effectively. When they batted first, they went in with just three overseas players with an option of a Rovman Powell (extra batter) or Nandra Burger (extra bowler) depending upon the situation. When they were winning, it seemed like the right way to do it, why not when everything is going to plan? However, desperation to optimise it to the fullest even when they were bowling began to expose the glaring loopholes. When RR bowled first, they started going in with just five bowlers, who are no doubt fantastic, to have an option of an extra batter.

But to use that extra option in the second innings started affecting the other discipline in their first innings. Hence, the batters couldn't go all-out aggressive so that they don't have to use that extra batter in first innings and on good pitches, if a bowler or two had a bad day, an extra batter in the second innings too wasn't helping the cause as they were chasing in excess of 200, which is never easy.

2. Injuries and departures

Probably every team has been affected by injuries throughout the season but the late withdrawals of English players for them to return home to be in time for the Pakistan T20 series. The top two teams for the major part of the season, Kolkata Knight Riders and the Royals have been affected the most, with their enforcer at the top leaving. Royals more so, given Yashasvi Jaiswal hasn't hit the best of forms in the season apart from a couple of knocks. Jos Buttler is a white-ball giant and taking him out of any team will create a hole in that team.

RR have a readymade replacement in Tom Kohler-Cadmore but he is playing his first season in the IPL and replacing Buttler is never easy. He struggled in his first innings in Guwahati and the Men in Pink will hope that he hits the top gear come the eliminator because there are no second chances. Shimron Hetmyer's untimely injury meant they had to play untested Donovan Ferreira and that too hasn't worked well.

3. Middle (order) muddle

Most of the first nine games of the season for the Royals with the bat felt like if Yashasvi Jaiswal won't, Jos Buttler will; if both the openers fail, captain Sanju Samson will do the job and if all three are not able to, Riyan Parag did it. When Samson and Riyan Parag fell early, Jaiswal scored that magnificent hundred. In other words, someone or the other in the top four was taking responsibility to play long and fast to take their side home with a bit of assistance from the lower order. The lower order didn't have to do the heavy lifting.

Dhruv Jurel scored in one match, Hetmyer provided finishing touches in a couple of them, Rovman Powell scored in one but there hasn't been anyone scoring consistently in the middle for them and that has hurt them, especially in big chases and Royals will need to get their act together in that department.

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