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Impact Player could allow Rajasthan Royals to maximise strong core

While Jason Holder's inclusion could add balance, their Indian fast-bowling stocks have been depleted by Prasidh Krishna's injury

Sanju Samson meets his match-winner Jos Buttler after the latter seals their spot in the final, Rajasthan Royals vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, IPL 2022 Qualifier 2, Ahmedabad, May 27, 2022

Sanju Samson and Jos Buttler will be keen to repeat their gun performances from IPL 2022  •  BCCI

Where Rajasthan Royals finished last season

Rajasthan Royals were runners-up in IPL 2022, finishing second in the league stage and losing the final to Gujarat Titans.

Rajasthan Royals squad for IPL 2023

Jos Buttler (wk), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Devdutt Padikkal, Sanju Samson (capt, wk), Shimron Hetmyer, Riyan Parag, Joe Root, Dhruv Jurel (wk), Donovan Ferreira, Kunal Singh Rathore, Jason Holder, Akash Vasisht, Abdul Basith, Yuzvendra Chahal, R Ashwin, Adam Zampa, KC Cariappa, M Ashwin, Trent Boult, Navdeep Saini, Obed McCoy, Kuldeep Sen, Kuldip Yadav, KM Asif, Sandeep Sharma.

Player availability - Prasidh Krishna out

Prasidh Krishna was ruled out of the season with a stress fracture of the back, which requires surgery. Sandeep Sharma, who went unsold at the player auction, has been named as his replacement.
Obed McCoy is recovering from a knee injury and might sit out the early stages of the tournament.
England will start their summer with a Test against Ireland on June 1, which is four days after the IPL final. While Chennai Super Kings' Ben Stokes has said he will leave early to prepare, Joe Root's availability for Royals for the closing stages of the IPL is unknown. England have eased up their approach with regards to allowing players complete their franchise-league commitments, as was seen during their limited-overs tour to Bangladesh.

What's new with Rajasthan Royals this year

Jason Holder could be the solution to Royals' problem of a long tail. In IPL 2022, 99.47% of Royals' 2807 total runs came from the top seven.
They could also start with Root instead of Shimron Hetmyer if they think they have enough firepower at the top and are instead looking for someone to bring stability in a crisis.
There's also the option of Root in place of Holder to further bolster the batting, and, in such a case, choose either Devdutt Padikkal or a bowler like KM Asif or Kuldeep Sen in the XI based on the toss result and use the Impact Player rule to substitute them later.
They sent R Ashwin up the order as a pinch-hitter last season, which they could do once again if conditions suit the move. This year they can make the move with the comfort of knowing they have extra batting cushion if it does not come off.

The good - Strong core for Sanju Samson's boys

Royals have an experienced set of core players who are likely to feature in all of their games. Jos Buttler and Sanju Samson are gamechangers at the top; in Trent Boult, Yuzvendra Chahal and Ashwin they have wicket-taking as well as run-controlling options; Holder glues both disciplines together.
Kumar Sangakkara and Lasith Malinga continue as head coach and director of cricket, and fast bowling coach respectively.

The not-so-good - Inexperience in local pace ranks

They have Navdeep Saini and now Sharma, but in Prasidh's absence, the inexperience of back-up bowlers Kuldip Yadav and Kuldeep Sen could show.
They also lack like-for-like cover for Holder.

Schedule insights

Royals' first two home games will be in Guwahati in Assam and not in Jaipur in Rajasthan, meaning a lack of familiarity to start off. And they don't play in Jaipur until April 19th, their sixth game of the season.
They largely have gaps of 2-3 days between their games (just twice, once at the end of April and then before their last league game of the season, do they have a four-day gap) so fatigue could be a factor.

The big question

March 27 - The story was updated to reflect Sandeep Sharma's inclusion in the squad