IPL 2015 May 21, 2015

Death bowling, overseas players' form hurts Royals

In spite of Ajinkya Rahane's outstanding form, Rajasthan Royals' inability to bowl well at the death has hamstrung them throughout the season

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We didn't bowl badly - Upton

Tournament overview

Rajasthan Royals' IPL 2015 was a classic case of contrasting halves. They might have felt they had achieved their objective of making it to the last four for the third time in eight seasons, but the manner in which the team struggled after getting off to a solid start would leave a bitter taste in the change room.

The team won their first five games in succession. The fact that those five were played in 10 days helped them keep the momentum going. But once the string was broken, in a one-over eliminator against Kings XI Punjab, Royals never looked the same unit. In the end, more than suffering from the two washouts, Royals benefitted from them as those two points were crucial in qualifying for the playoffs.

All through their campaign, Royals couldn't come up with a solution for their death bowling. Their bowling unit conceded the most runs in the last five overs among all teams speaks volumes about the problem that plagued them throughout the campaign.

One of the key reasons for the Royals turbulent season was the lack of big-ticket players performing consistently. Barring Ajinkya Rahane, none of the three Australians - Shane Watson, Steven Smith and James Faulkner - could come up with more than one match-winning contribution.

High Point

Well begun is half done, they say. But the Royals' start was so impressive - five wins from as many games - that their qualification was almost a given in the first two weeks. Despite missing Shane Watson due to an injury for four of those games, Smith's men looked class apart.

Low Point

Royals played three matches against Royal Challengers and didn't win any, which hit their campaign hard. The first loss started their slide while the loss in the Eliminator on Tuesday night ended their indifferent season.

Top of the class

Establishing himself as Mr. Reliable in every team he plays for, Ajinkya Rahane enhanced his credentials by plundering 540 runs in the season. Royals' next-highest scorer was almost 200 runs behind him. Rahane thus joined the select band of Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina and Shaun Marsh to have tallied more than 500 runs in an IPL season more than once.

Under-par performer

James Faulkner came into the tournament as the premier allrounder from Australia's victorious World Cup campaign. He started off in top form but fizzled out as the tournament progressed. A series haul of 144 runs at an average of 18 and eight wickets at an economy rate of 9.46 was nowhere close to what the team sought from the leading allrounder.

Tip for 2016

Death bowling. That's the No. 1 priority that Royals need to sort. They tried all possible options but barring Chris Morris in a couple of games, none of their bowlers could get it right in the end, which cost them dearly all through the season. Also, it would also be ideal if the team unveils the captain of the season well in advance and sticks by it all through the season.

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Yasin on May 23, 2015, 2:43 GMT

    Wrong headlines. From overseas players, only Faulkner was out of form. Its RR's Indian players hurt them most. Nair, Samson, Hooda, binny all failed whole tournament. Smith doesn't get much opportunity. They should have dropped Faulkner much earlier. But They Stick with him and paid the Price. His days are over. Overrated All-rounder.

  • ANAND on May 22, 2015, 21:15 GMT

    Rahane should be made captain of Rajasthan. That effectively frees up that overseas player spot that RR can tinker in anyway with. Rahane is also a possible future India captain material. Also get rid of Faulkner. That guy leaks runs faster than a broken dam. His batting might be useful at times but his primary job is a bowler and he is a big failure at it,

  • Dummy on May 22, 2015, 19:28 GMT

    The reason Royals won in 2008 , should be looked at. 1. They had explosive openers. Asnotkar /Smith/ Kamran akmal 2. They had big hitters/ allrounders Watson / Pathan. 3. The bowler of the tournament was from their team, Sohail tanveer. 4. Shane warne Captain and top spinner.

    So for a team to win, needs 11 good players. Power hitters, explosive opening and strike bowler a Must.

  • ravi on May 22, 2015, 17:55 GMT

    I re enforce Hardfact 's notes.

    I think the think tank never used the Indians well.The Australians were not performing adequately, accordingly the roles to be played by the Indians were altered after every match so much so that that began to affect the team performance.Irrespective of the repeated batting failures of smith and Faulkner they were almost always given batting opportunity before Samson and Binny. Even Hooda was given the No3 and 4 batting opportunity more than once before more experienced batters who can control the innings .Those who blame Binny Please note that he was economical in his bowling in every match and not once completed his full quota of overs.Also he always came to bat in the lower order and the situation always being almost out of grip.Irrespective of repeated failures Faulkner was present in every match and despite being hit ,he was always bowling in the death overs.

  • Varun on May 22, 2015, 17:10 GMT

    RR needs a good Indian fast bowler and a good Indian spinner. The international players are top class, and form is temporary. They need to replace bits and pieces players like Binny, Bhatia with 2 specialist Indian bowlers. High time they stop complaining of not having "Big" players.

  • Salil on May 22, 2015, 13:31 GMT

    I believe one more thing that RR could have done is to use Dhawal Kulkarni better. He was very under used and dropped in games that he could have made a difference to. If I'm not wrong, he is the co-highest wicket taker for RR this season. But surprisingly, rarely bowled his full quota of 4 overs. One incident when he ended up with figures of 2/9 in just 3. Never got the logic. Hope they realise his full potential next year.

    PS: I'm a die-hard fan of the Mumbai Ranji Team. My apologies for the bias. :)

  • jayaesh on May 22, 2015, 12:44 GMT

    @Herath-UK: Well i could clearly see the effort put in by Watson and Steven Smith, it was apparent in there face and body language that it meant a lot to them, just because you don't fancy IPL/Francisee cricket does not mean that players who participate in them don't. On the contrary in top European Football leagues players are accused of favoring there clubs more than there countries.

  • stewey on May 22, 2015, 10:47 GMT

    All will be forgiven if they pull off a win for this next match. If not,...

  • Mandesh on May 22, 2015, 8:32 GMT

    If the RR foreign players were not performing, why did they not replace them with Indian players. The rule is having maximum 4 foreign players, but they could have played even 2 or 3 foreign players only and have more Indian players in the playing 11. I think MI had done this before in CL, in one match they have played 5 foreign players and in another match they have played only 3 foreign players. So 4 foreign players is not hard and fast rule.

  • Junaid Ansari on May 22, 2015, 8:30 GMT

    very true said in article, RR to start finding their death bowler

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