The Rajasthan Royals’ season will be remembered for the cleverness with which they managed to make do with a very thin batting lineup, which included R Ashwin at No. 7. He was used as a pinch hitter, and then as a pinch anchor cover after his job was completed. To maximize his death, they even retired him once.
Their director of cricket Kumar Sangakkara expects more from specialist batters than Jos Buttler or Sanju Samuel, particularly the young Riyan Parag. After Sunday’s final, he said that he would continue to work towards it.
Sangakkara stated that “I believe we have a lot to improve in all areas really” at the post-match press conference. Take our batting. We had tremendous contributions from Jos and contributions from Sanju in the early stages. Riyan [Padikkal] and Devdutt (Padikkal] were good in patches but we need more support-role players to improve our overall performance.
Riyan Parag is a great player. We need to get him to a higher batting average by the next session. Because he has such a great record against spin and pace, I am looking forward to helping him become an early-middle order player.
“Overall, I think we have the purple and orange caps, and we played exceptionally well as a team. From the beginning of the tournament, I felt that the guys put in a tremendous effort. I am proud.”
Parag faced just 132 balls over 14 innings of this IPL. His 31-ball unbeaten 56 against Royal Challengers Bangalore, Pune was his longest innings. They tried to balance the batting with James Neesham and Daryl Mitchell, but it was too much for their bowling balance. They eventually went with their five best bowlers and left the batters to adjust. This left Buttler with more responsibility and left Yashasvi Jaiswal and Samson with additional responsibility to bat fast so Buttler’s slow starts could be accommodated.
Samson answered Star Sports’ questions about his year at the post-match presentation. “The role was different this year with Jos taking 20 overs. Every batter had a different mentality to play around him, in different situations, with different strike rates, and take on the bowlers. There are some nice 30s and 40s, and 20s. But there’s still so much to learn.
Buttler refused to blame his slow starts on the poor batting. Star Sports asked Buttler if he felt he was being left with the double role of batting fast and batting long. He replied, “No. You can have trust in everyone when you are part of a team that is good. I trust everyone. We were fantastic throughout the season, but we came up short today. I respond to my own game. If I’m asked to react to a game, whether it is aggressive or patient, I believe that I can make the right choice.
However, Jaiswal & Samson made up the difference with their quickstarts to put the Royals at 59 runs for 1 in eight innings in the final. Sangakkara felt that this was a solid base after they made the unexpected decision to bat on winning their fourth toss of the season.
Sangakkara stated that they were debating whether to place them in the first or not. When we got to the ground, the pitch was still very dry. We thought it would get slower, and perhaps offer a bit more turn for our spinners. We expected to score between 160 and 165. Our batting innings were well-set: 70 runs for 1 at the halfway point. Sanju was out, then Hardik [Pandya] came on to bowl some lovely overs, and Gujarat was back in the game.
“With 130 you need luck and quick wickets in the powerplay. Yes, we got two, but unfortunately, we didn’t get [Shubman] Gill within the first over. The [asking] rate never exceeded seven. It was always going be difficult.”
Sangakkara was full of praise for Ashwin’s bowlers, but he expected Ashwin would push himself harder next season. Sangakkara stated that Ash has done a fantastic job for us. “Even though Ash is a legend on the cricketing field, there are many improvements and thoughts to be made, particularly with his offspinner.