IPL 2019: Exclusive - Rajasthan Royals can win the title this season, says Jofra Archer
Rajasthan Royals begin their Indian Premier League 2019 campaign with a match against Kings XI Punjab at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on Monday and the mood in the camp is upbeat.
Often called the ‘Moneyball’ team of the IPL, which depended on local and young talent, the Royals since last season have decided to open their purse and splurge in the auction. The result was a place in the play-offs in their very first season back from suspension.
Ajinkya Rahane and his team though had the arduous task of facing Kolkata Knight Riders in the Eliminator without their impact English duo of Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes, who had to go back for international duty in the business end of the tournament.
That could be the case again if the Royals do reach the knock-outs as international players will have to report for national duty well in advance for the ICC World Cup. But one of their key players feels that the team has the wherewithal to go all the way this season.
“We have a realistic chance of winning this season as we have a good team. Last season things didn’t go our way with international selections as Jos (Buttler) and Ben (Stokes) were missing in the eliminator. There is no reason why we can’t go all the way,” all-rounder Jofra Archer said in an exclusive interaction with Hindustan Times.
Widely tipped to make the England squad for the World Cup himself, Archer was a key figure in the Royals campaign last season, picking up 15 wickets in 10 matches last season. He has set a bigger goal this season though.
“I got injured last season and as a result could not play all the matches. This year I hope to stay fit and pick up 23 wickets if possible.
An asset for the team in the death overs, Archer is proficient in bowling yorkers and slower deliveries, and feels execution on the day is what matters.
“It is tough bowling in the death and you can practice as much as you want but it is on the day that you have to believe that things will go right for you and do them accordingly,” the 23-year old said.
Ajinkya Rahane was handed captaincy of the side last season and led the team well. Archer believes Rahane’s calm demeanor helps the team in crunch situations.
“He is a very calm leader. I don’t think I have seen him agitated or angry in any situation. You need a calming influence during games and Ajinkya does that for us.”
Asked why the IPL is considered the best T20 league in the world, the Barbados-born cricketer said, “It is tough wherever you go but the pressure is higher in the IPL because the world’s best play in this league. In the other leagues you have a few superstars but in IPL all the top players are playing and anyone can be good on a given day. That makes the competition tougher. The pitches are also a little slower and that makes the battle between bat and ball more interesting.”
Asked about Buttler and Stokes, who could be his international teammates soon, Archer said he did gel well with both of them last season and is happy that he doesn’t have to bowl to Buttler, who he thinks is the toughest batsman to bowl to in T20 cricket.
“I am glad I have Jos Buttler in our team. He is definitely the most difficult batsman to bowl to in this format,” Archer said.
Archer doesn’t wish to get too far ahead of himself but he has a wish in mind for this year’s final.
“We haven’t won the title since 2008 so definitely I want us to win this season. Chennai Super Kings are favourites again though. So, another Rajasthan vs Chennai final with the Royals coming out on top yet again,” the youngster signed off.