Part 2 of the series expounds on the performances of two Royals, Shane Watson and Ashok Menaria. Watto has been a part of the Rajasthan Royals since the inaugural IPL while the promising local boy Menaria was drafted in the squad last season and has continued since.
The arrival of Shane Watson was direly awaited by the fans and the team alike. He was expected to add muscle power to the Royals side. The marauding Queenslander did complete justice to his reputation, plundering 295 runs at a blistering strike rate of 175.60. The runs came off the Australians blade at a staggering average of 49.17 in 7 matches that he could make himself available. The all-rounders bowling too was equally effective. He finished the IPL-5 as Royals third most economical bowler with the average runs conceded per over being 7.00.
It took Watto just one match to acclimatize to the conditions in the subcontinent. In his second match against the Kings 11, he produced a scintillating all-round display to bring an end to Royals losing streak. He scored a whirlwind 36 off 17 balls along with claiming 2-22. Against the Pune Warrior, he singlehandedly steered the team to the target, slamming boundaries at will on his way to unbeaten 90 off just 51 balls. On the slow track where the combined effort of the PWI team could yield only 5 fours and 2 sixes, Watson alone mauled 10 fours and 4 sixes in his quick-fire knock. In the encounter against the Chennai Super Kings, he had an off day, first fell cheaply to a dubious catch and then had his bowling figures in the match spoilt by some merciless assault in the death overs. He came back strongly against the Pune Warriors, pummelling them, yet again, with his brutal hitting and wily bowling. He notched up his second half century (58 off 31) of IPL-5 before coming back to bag 2 wickets for just 22 runs in his 3 overs. Watson failed to capitalize on the reprieve he got against the Deccan Chargers. But against the Mumbai Indians, he initiated the acceleration after a wicket maiden to end up as the top scorer (45 off 36) for his team in team in their last match of the season. He was also, the most economical bowler (5.66) for the Royals in the match.
He has served to be a useful fielder for the Royals. In the 3 matches that the Royals have won, since his joining the side, his strike rate has been 185.86. He has also maintained an incredible average of 92.00 in those matches. The figures speak volumes of his impact in the Royals campaign.
The youngster created ripples in IPL-4 with his towering sixes but in the 5th edition he failed to translate his talent into performance. He collected 220 runs at an average of 20.00 and a strike rate of 108.91. He averages paltry 7.67 in the three matches in which he was promoted to the pivotal No.3. He has also been accused of causing stutters in the middle overs.
He began the season with a duck against the Kings 11 but pulled up his socks in the next match to bring up 40 off 30, his best, both in terms of runs and strike rate, in the tournament. Against the Mumbai Indians, with the required run rate mounting, he failed to put up a meaningful fight, falling for 20 off 15 balls. He was unfortunately run out for 1 off 6 balls against the Kolkata Night Riders. The 21 year old consumed 20 balls to score 22, with the team in pursuit of 198 to win, against the Deccan Chargers. He scored 36 off 34 balls against the Chennai Super Kings before being dismissed in the 19th over. He struggled to clear the boundaries in the death overs but persisted, despite having teams most reliable finisher, Brad Hodge, down the order. Against the Delhi Daredevils, he had a brief stay at the crease (2 off 4) as he failed to provide support to his resolute captain. He hammered Piyush Chawla for two sixes in his valuable 34 off 27 against Kings 11. He played an able ally (18 off 21) to Watson, in the match against the Pune Warriors, before falling to an ambitious effort, off Clarkes bowling, with just 21 needed for a win. The decision to attempt such a shot is questionable especially in a situation where the team easing to victory needed a big victory margin to boost its net run rate. He scored a valuable 20 off 17 in the low scoring match against the Deccan Chargers. Against the Mumbai Indians, he adopted a conservative batting approach, satisfying himself with the singles when big shots were the need of the hour.
However, Menaria managed to redeem himself with the ball, whenever given the opportunity. He conceded only 3 runs and scalped a wicket in the single over that he bowled against the Kolkata Night Riders. Against the Chennai Super Kings, he was economical, allowing only 10 runs from his 2 overs. He was hit for a four and a six in the two balls he bowled against the Daredevils but that can be attributed to DDs haste to wrap up victory. Doxy also served as an agile fielder, saving boundaries and taking spectacular catches. His excellent forward diving catch against Daredevils at Kotla, to send back the dangerous Virendra Sehwag, commends his fielding abilities.
The 21 year tall Rajasthani batsman does have the potential to turn himself into a match winner, but it remains to be seen if he actually will.