Home > Features >

IPL 2014: Should Shane Watson open the innings for Rajasthan Royals?

If Shane Watson moves to the top, it won't make a big difference in the solid Rajasthan Royals middle-order which comprises of Sanju Samson, Stuart Binny, Steve Smith and Rajat Bhatia © IANS
If Shane Watson moves to the top, it won’t make a big difference in the solid Rajasthan Royals middle-order which comprises of Sanju Samson, Stuart Binny, Steve Smith and Rajat Bhatia © IANS

Rajasthan Royals (RR) are currently placed fourth in the points table of the 2014 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). While their bowling has looked very good in three of the four games, their batsmen have struggled to put runs on the board. Shiamak Unwalla looks at the man who could turn things around for the Royals.


In the four matches that the Rajasthan Royals have played in IPL 7, they have put up scores of 135 for six, 191 for five, 133 all out and 71 for four. Barring the one match in which they made 191, the rest of the scores have all come while chasing. Therefore, to say that RR have crossed 150 just once in four matches would be misleading. And yet, the numbers do tell a story. This is a team that lost six wickets while getting to 135, a comparatively less daunting total than most. Then they were all out for 133 while chasing 140, which isn’t that much more than 135. And finally, they lost four wickets while chasing a target of 70, which is far less formidable than 135 or 140.

Clearly, the RR batsmen aren’t enjoying themselves. The sample size is still too small to make a statement that RR prefer batting first, but from the evidence of three chases it can be seen that they don’t fancy to chase often. They have certainly made heavy work out of chases that perhaps should not have been this challenging. The one person that stands out in the RR line-up is their captain, Shane Watson.

Watson is clearly among the key batsmen for Rajasthan. He is their captain, and therefore the onus is on him to do well. His scores in the first four matches read 3, 50, 7, and 24. Maybe not as bad as other captains in IPL 7 (Gautam Gambhir comes to mind!), but far from ideal. What is most baffling is that Watson has usually done very well while opening the innings, but in this IPL he is batting at No 4. This has been a trend with Watson for quite some time now.

He has forgone his position as opener, even for Australia, in favour of the No 3 spot, but he has not been nearly as successful. A quick look at his statistics will show that he averages around 45 as opener in One Day Internationals (ODIs), about 41 as opener in Tests, and almost 32 as opener in Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is), all of which is comfortably higher than his average at other positions in which he has batted for a minimum of five innings. He averages around 40 at No 7 in ODIs, but that is mainly because of 11 not outs in 23 innings. It is only in Tests, where he averages nearly 42 at No 3 after 19 innings, that there is not much difference from his position as opener.

Now, these figures may not paint an accurate picture for his exploits in the IPL, but in the current RR side only Ajinkya Rahane looks like a solid opener. Abhishek Nayar has not been able to justify his position as an opener, and in the one match that Karun Nair played, he didn’t inspire a lot of confidence either. With a middle order that reads Sanju Samson, Steven Smith, Brad Hodge, Rajat Bhatia and Stuart Binny, it is unlikely that Watson’s promotion up the order will affect the balance of the side. If anything, it will help lay a sound platform for the power players like Smith and Binny to take full toll at the end.

Rajasthan play their next match against the misfiring Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). This will be their last match of the UAE leg of the IPL, and they will be keen to sign off on a winning note. If Watson opens the innings, the Royals will have a more stable influence at the top, and perhaps that will make them a more intimidating batting line-up.

Click here for IPL 2014 Schedule: Match time table for IPL 7

Click here for IPL 2014 Schedule & Results

Click here for IPL 2014 complete coverage

(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 20, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Kolkata

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Dubai

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014 (09:30 IST)   at Dhaka

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Hamilton


South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 24, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 72 runs

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 21, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 6 wkts

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 17, 2014  at Dharamsala

India won by 59 runs

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 14, 2014  at Visakhapatnam

Match cancelled

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 12, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Australia won by 1 run


Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test at Dubai


AB de Villiers praises team after win in 1st ODI

Pakistan hold advantage at stumps on Day 3 of 1st Test against Australia

Asad Shafiq emerges as dependable No 6 for Pakistan

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Mitchell Johnson shows signs of effectiveness on unhelpful surfaces

South Africa vs New Zealand 2014: Vital for Brendon McCullum to find form quickly

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 Duleep Trophy India New Zealand New Zealand vs South Africa New Zealand vs South Africa 2014 Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Africa South Africa tour of New Zealand 2014 South Africa vs New Zealand South Africa vs New Zealand 2014

Live Scorecard: Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe, 1st Test Day 1 at Mirpur

Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe, Live Cricket Score, 1st Test at Mirpur

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: BCCI awaits Wriddhiman Saha’s fitness report before searching for replacement

Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe 2014, 1st Test at Mirpur: Bangladesh aim to improve Test rank

Duleep Trophy 2014: Central Zone lead by 81 runs as North Zone bowled out for 457

Strangers, Brothers and Cricket— the English novelist CP Snow’s lasting passion for the game

World Cup 1992, England vs Pakistan: Three hours of rain changes course of tournament

David Warner’s transformation into a dependable and effervescent batsman

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Spin hunt continues for visitors

Sarfaraz Ahmed may have trumped the Akmals as Pakistan’s wicketkeeper-batsman across formats

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

642 Posts | 9 Fans

Virat Kohli's Family Meets Anushka Sharma

Top Sex Positions: Frog Princess

Bigg Boss 8 Highlights: Gautam Gulati claims Sonali Raut is not his kinda girl

How to make tamarind or imli packs for hair and skin

Nokia turnaround since handset unit sale continues, reports $950 million Q3 net profit

Real Madrid vs Barcelona Spanish La Liga 2014-15 Preview: Yet another Lionel Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo shootout on the cards in El Clasico

Google partners Oxford University to teach machines to think

BREAKING NEWS: Fire on the sets of Yeh Hai Mohabbatein and Kumkum Bhagya

Farah Khan’s ‘Happy New Year’ is the Typical Over the top Masala and Action

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here