Rajasthan need to snap out of losing habit, and soon

Sanju Samson vs DC
Sanju Samson (PC: IPL/X)

“Winning is a habit” might be an overused cliche, but it is a fact that momentum is a key factor in a long tournament. Several teams have thrived on momentum and gone on to hoist the trophy. The opposite also holds true – losing is a habit. In the ongoing Indian Premier League, Rajasthan Royals (RR) have experienced both sides of the coin. 

They were on a winning spree before it was halted by Sunrisers Hyderabad in a thriller. RR have followed that up with a losing streak of four matches. Their latest defeat came at the hands of Punjab Kings (PBKS), the tournament’s laggards. 

So, which part of RR’s engine room is malfunctioning? Is there any quick fix for it? A closer look at RR’s various departments and it is apparent that some level of horsepower is missing in their batting unit. Jos Buttler, one of the fulcrums, has left the IPL. Meanwhile, despite scoring a hundred, Yashasvi Jaiswal is averaging a tad under 30 for the season. For opponents, Jaiswal has certainly become a marked man, as bowlers are coming out with specific plans to negate his threat at the top of the order. 

Even Buttler wasn’t at his very best. He used all his experience to accumulate a couple of game-breaking hundreds. But outside of that, the trademark Buttler-flourish seems to be missing from his game. His last two knocks – 21 off 25 and 19 off 17 – served as a case in point. Tom Kohler-Cadmore, his replacement for the game against PBKS, looked nervy at the crease. In his defence, the track was on the slower side. 

To compound RR’s woes, Shimron Hetmyer, their designated finisher, has been laid low by a niggle over the past couple of weeks. With Rovman Powell finding himself in and out of the side, the lower middle order too has a few misplaced nuts and bolts. Basically, Sanju Samson, the skipper, and Riyan Parag, the other in-form batter with more than 500 runs to his name, are doing most of the heavy lifting. To make matters even worse, in RR’s last couple of outings, only Parag has stood tall amid the ruins.

Perhaps, RR’s batters can remember Kumar Sangakkara’s often-repeated mantra. After Buttler had cracked that superlative hundred at Eden Gardens, he had said: “That’s something Sangakkara has told me a lot – there’s always a breaking point.

“The worst thing you can do is to not fight and give your wicket away. He (Sangakkara) just tells me to stay there and at some point, the momentum will change. That’s been a big part of my play over the last few years.”

Jaiswal has to hang in there for a few deliveries and try to regain his rhythm. The same goes for Kohler-Cadmore, Powell and others. As IPL 2024 approaches its business end, time is running out for RR to steer the wheel in the right direction. And their next task is a next daunting one – A clash against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), the table-toppers.