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Squad Analysis: Rajasthan Royals look up to ‘Million Dollar’ man Ben Stokes for good fortune

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Rajasthan Royals have broken the bank in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 season for both foreign and domestic recruits and are banking on the experience of Australian skipper Steve Smith to guide them to glory.
The team has relied heavy on Rising Pune Supergiants unit by building the side around the core players of a side that featured in the IPL for the previous two seasons. The inaugural champions of the 2008 edition, are making a comeback to the money spinning blockbuster league after being suspended alongside Chennai Super Kings for a period of two years.
ALSO READ: Squad Analysis: MS Dhoni-Led Chennai Super Kings Go Heavy On Spin
The franchise retained Smith and went back in the auction pool getting some of the familiar core players of the past back that included Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson and Dhawal Kulkarni. At the Bengaluru auction, they recruited Ben Stokes for a record fee alongside India’s Jaydev Unadkat, who turned out to be the costliest domestic player.
Interestingly, the likes of Smith, Rahane, Unadkat and Stokes all played for Pune Supergiants in the last two seasons. Smith led the side well and got them to the final where they lost to Mumbai Indians in the Maharashtra derby. Therefore the management decided to keep it simple and build the side around Smith and Rahane. There will be pressure though of making an entry back to the IPL after two years of suspension.
Here is the analysis of the Royals team that will play under the leadership of Steve Smith.
Batsmen: Ajinkya Rahane and Sanju Samson will likely open the innings for the side. Rahane has been very consistent in the IPL for the last six seasons and no wonder he is such a big threat atop. His calmness and ability to lay the foundation will do the side world of good. In Samson, they have an energetic player who has been exciting to watch with his exploits in this league.
The middle order looks strong with Smith in at No. 3 and his presence is huge given providing the continuity of the innings. Stokes, Jos Buttler and Big Bash League (BBL) wonder D’Arcy Short add the vitality besides providing the perfect finishing role.
Short has been in sensational form for the Hobart Hurricanes in the BBL and  Buttler on the other hand played a big role in helping the Mumbai Indians win the coveted trophy last season. The side also added Maharashtra batsman Rahul Tripathi to their ranks, who too played for the Supergiants and had a decent run in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
A look at Rahane and Buttler’s IPL record.
Rahane: Matches 111, Runs 3057, Best 103, Average 33.59, S/R 120.59
Buttler: Matches 24, Runs 527, Best 77, Average 25.10, S/R 145.98
All eyes will be on England’s superstar Ben Stokes, who was bought for a whopping Rs 12.5 crore. Stokes’ brilliance with both bat and ball is a big plus for the Royals. His status as one of the best all-rounders of the game brings in a surplus of richness to the Royals side. Stokes was influential for Pune last season and will be hoping to carry the onus for his new side this season.
Stokes: Matches 12, Runs 316, Best 103, Average 31.60, S/R 142.99, Wickets 12, Best 3/18
Besides Stokes, veteran Stuart Binny will look to provide the side a lot of impetus with his skills in the middle overs. Besides Binny the inclusion of Ankit Sharma is a huge plus for the side. The 26-year-old stylish bowling all-rounder has huge experience in first class cricket. He represented Pune last season in the tourney. They also spent big on Karnataka’s bowling-allrounder Gowtham Krishnappa. Gowtham has been impressive for Karnataka with the ball and can bat as well down the order.
Bowlers: Royals have gone in with a good looking bowling unit and it looks well balanced. Jaydev Unadkat will lead the attack after being excellent for Pune last season where he picked 24 wickets. He will recently be seen playing in the T20Is for India against South Africa after the conclusion of the ODI series that starts from February 1.
Jaydev Unadkat: Matches 47, Wickets 56, Best 5/25, Economy 8.01
Another very impressive signing for the Royals is Jofra Archer. Archer has been a star in the making for quite a while now and this year, he has finally delivered big time. Archer is known for his consistency in death bowling and has been playing in the BBL. He is a young dynamic player and is big value for money as fans will be looking up to him.
The Royals also bolstered their pace battery with the experienced Ben Laughlin of Australia, who featured for the Sunrisers Hyderabad last term. The 35-year-old is hugely experienced and has been consistent in the BBL. Young Afghanistan fast-bowler Zahir Khan Pakteen will be the one to watch out for as well. Sri Lanka’s Dushmantha Chameera, and  besides the experienced Dhawal Kulkarni.
Weaknesses: The team looks pretty balanced and sorted, but the Royals lack a classy spinner. They have gone heavy on pace attack and could have included a notable spinner. They also look over reliant on Smith and Rahane as pure classy batsmen.
Here’s their complete squad

 Steve Smith, Benjamin Stokes, Jaydev Unadkat, Sanju Samson, Jofra Archer, Krishnappa Gowtham, Jos Buttler, Ajinkya Rahane, Darcy Short, Rahul Tripathi, Dhawal Kulkarni, Zahir Khan Pakteen, Ben Laughlin, Stuart Binny, Dushmantha Chameera, Anureet Singh, Aryaman Vikram Birla, Midhun S, Shreyas Gopal, Prashant Chopra, Jatin Saxena, Ankit Sharma, Mahipal Lomror
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