In their last eight games, they have won only twice and after Sunday’s disastrous 112-run defeat to Royal Challengers Bangalore, where they were shot out for just 59, Rajasthan looked like a side that has completely lost the momentum, with its Play-offs hopes now hanging by a thread.
Former India opener Aakash Chopra feels Rajasthan’s massive slump began with Samson and opener Jos Buttler suffering loss of form in the last eight games. Since Rajasthan’s downfall began, Buttler has made just one fifty-plus score while being out for ducks thrice. Samson, on the other hand, has nothing of note apart from an unbeaten 66 and 48.
"It started with Jos Buttler and Sanju Samson losing form. If two of your top three batters are going through a rough patch, and if that happens to be coinciding, then it becomes a huge issue. Buttler completely going off the boil and Sanju suddenly losing form after starting quite decently, I think that started the rut," said Chopra, an IPL expert for JioCinema, in a select virtual media interaction.
Chopra also pointed out that Rajasthan have not been practical with decision-making in terms of tactics and have shot themselves in the foot on the field, citing an example of them using only five bowlers in their clash against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Sunday.
"After that, Yuzvendra Chahal not picking wickets in Jaipur, barring one game. Even though he’s in the race for the Purple Cap, and could rather have the cap on him or either Rashid Khan. There are multiple factors, but one thing that stands out sometimes with Rajasthan is that they tend to theorise and analyse a lot."
"Sometimes it becomes counterproductive, as when you see other teams who tend to keep things a little simpler. You find Rajasthan is never that team. Even in the game against Bangalore, it baffles me how you can have five bowling options when there is an Impact Player rule available. That means that you haven’t got your team right."
"I mean, how can you not have the sixth bowler? So, whichever team has five bowling options and doesn’t have a sixth bowling option, in this day and age with the Impact Player rule, you have to question that thought process and that did happen."
"Therefore, you end up conceding more than what you should have. Being dismissed for 59 wouldn’t have helped, but things like this have happened a few more times with Rajasthan this year as compared to somebody else," he elaborated.
With all four playoffs spots up for grabs, Chopra foresees defending champions Gujarat Titans and four-time winners Chennai Super Kings facing off in the final, which was also the opening clash of IPL 2023.
"In my view, Gujarat Titans should be there as they have been the best team in the competition and have been consistent. If Chennai qualify for the playoffs, then they get to play either Qualifier 1 or Eliminator at their home ground. If Chennai make it to the final through Qualifier 1 or 2, then chances of them facing Gujarat in the final become very bright."