Rajasthan Royals will make a return to the Indian Premier League following their 2-year suspension. The IPL season 1 winners will start their IPL 2018 campaign against season 9 winners Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on 9th April. The headlines prior to the match are surely going to be dominated by two men who will in no way play a part in the match – Steve Smith and David Warner. The Australian duo was suspended by BCCI for IPL 2018 following their ball-tampering scandal against South Africa. Their absence has certainly taken some of the shine away from this year’s tournament but never the less, there will be enough superstars taking the field on Monday (April 9th) to guarantee us a closely fought contest between two very talented teams, i.e. Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals. We shall sketch out a SRH vs RR combined XI in this article.
Rajasthan Royals team management did a superb job in the auction that was held back in January and have in the process managed to create a very competitive team with some really good T20 players. In Ben Stokes and Jaydev Unadkat, the franchise has the two most expensive players from IPL 2018 auction. Sunrisers Hyderabad on the other hand, manage to bring back quite a few players back from last season including young Afghanistani sensation Rashid Khan, who is a favourite to win the Purple Cap this season. Although only in theory, the SRH vs RR combined XI would be quite a dominant team.
In the absence of David Warner, Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson will be taking charge of the Sunrisers, while Ajinkya Rahane will lead the Rajasthan Royals team in IPL 2018. Apart from the superstars of the T20 format, there are a few Indian players who will be itching to perform big in the upcoming season in order to find a place in the senior Indian team. Players like Manish Pandey, Rahul Tripathi, Sanju Samson have performed brilliantly in the past but not at a frequency level that is required to make it to the national side. However, this season could prove to a major turning point in the careers of these exceptionally talented players. In this article, we try and create the best playing 11 combining the squads of both Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals.
Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals – Combined Playing 11
- Shikhar Dhawan
Shikhar Dhawan, who has played 127 IPL matches and has scored 3561 runs would have been disappointed not to have been given the captaincy following David Warner’s suspension last month. The 32-year-old has been in phenomenal form of late is probably second to Virat Kohli in the Indian batting line-up. Although there are some really talented openers to choose from in the SRH vs RR Combined XI, Shikhar Dhawan for us would be among the first names on the team-sheet not only for SRH but probably any team in the country.
2. Ajinkya Rahane
Unfortunately for Rahane, the food of both Rohit and Dhawan over the past 12 months has meant that he has to spend most of his time with the Indian team on the bench waiting for his chance. But there is no doubting the fact that the newly appointed captain of Rajasthan Royals is a hugely talented batsman, who rose through the ranks with some brilliant innings in the IPL itself. He would be a perfect choice to open the innings with Shikhar Dhawan in the SRH vs RR combined XI.
3. Kane Williamson
To bring calm during the middle-overs of the innings, there is no better batsman than the Kiwi international Kane Williamson. Having played just 15 IPL matches till now, it was surprising to see SRH management handing over the captaincy but than in him they have a very experienced international captain who has lead his national side to massive victories since taking charge in 2016.
4. Manish Pandey
The first ever Indian to score a century in IPL, Manish Pandey has become an Indian team regular recently. Although he still has his critics who are not afraid to question the multiple chances he has got in the national side without performing at a consistent level. Fortunately for Manish, he hasn’t faced the same issue in the lucrative IPL. the 28-year-old has scored 2215 runs in the IPL at a solid average of 28.39. The former KKR batsman will be a key component of the SRH side this season as they look to win their 2nd title in just 3 years.
5. Ben Stokes
For the 2nd year in the running, Ben Stokes ended up being the most expensive buy at the auction. The English arrived at Rajasthan Royals following their massive INR 12.5 crore bid. Last few months have been hugely controversial for the all-rounder following his involvement in a bar brawl in Bristol last year. But IPL 2018 will give him the perfect the chance to erase those memories and build on his MVP Trophy win from last season with RPS.
6. Stuart Binny
With the limitation of 4 foreign players in the starting XI and a dearth of all-rounders in both SRH and RR squad, Stuart Binny will quite easily slot into this combined 11 behind Ben Stokes. The 33-year-old is a very good utility player to have in the side, who can chip in with 2-3 overs and get you some extra 15-20 runs during the final few overs. Unfortunately for Binny, he has never been able to find the required level of consistency that a top international player needs to have.
7. Wriddhiman Saha
The Indian test wicket-keeper, Wriddhiman Saha will easily slot into the combined SRH and RR playing 11 over England international Jos Buttler. Saha is the only batsman to score a century in an IPL Final but is currently India’s number keeper in test cricket. Saha is a hugely talented player who often struggles with consistency or even converting starts into big score. This year Saha will be part of a talent SRH unit and it is essential that he contributes to the team’s season.
8. Bhuvneshar Kumar
The 2-time defending Purple Cap winner will probably the first name on the team sheet for SRH this season. Bhuvneshwar’s career has been on an upward trend since the day he made his debut for India. His 111 wickets in just 90 matches at an economy of 7.08 made SRH’s decision on who to retain for the upcoming season very easy. He will be leading the bowling contingent this season as he looks to complete a hat-trick of Purple Cap wins.
9. Rashid Khan
Rashid Khan was probably the most awaited name in the auction this year and given that the Afghanistan captain picked up 17 wickets in 10 matches at a phenomenal economy rate of 4.57 in T20I in 2017, it’s not surprising to see the hype surrounding this man. A total of 5 teams went after the mystery spinner but in the end, Sunrisers Hyderabad used their Right to Match card to bring the youngster back into their franchise for a whopping INR 9 crore.
10. Jofra Archer
Another bowler who has been superb in various T20 leagues around the world in the last 12 months. Jofra Archer burst into the limelight following his deadly spells in the Big Bash League for Hobart Hurricanes. The West Indian born player is currently waiting to make his international debut for England, but there is no doubt that he will be a very crucial part of the RR playing 11 in the upcoming season following his INR 7.2 crore signing in January.
11. Jaydev Unadkat
Quite surprisingly Jaydev Unadkat became the most expensive Indian player bought at this year’s auction following Rajasthan Royals INR 11.5 crore bid. Jaydev Unadkat is still not fully tested in pressure situations and his price-tag could become a big liability for the team if he doesn’t start off firing. He is a very intelligent bowler who has the ability to change this around at the last moment, but with only 47 IPL games under his belt, he still has a lot of learning left to do.
WATCH: Ajinkya Rahane on Breakfast with Champions with Gaurav Kapoor