After a summer of various possibilities, Rajasthan Royals have their squad all set and raring to go ahead of the remainder of the IPL season in the UAE. With several changes being made across franchises due to player injuries and availability issues, the Royals sprang into action over the past few weeks to bag four exciting talents as the latest additions to the Royals family, and we can’t wait to see them in pink!
An explosive batter, a handy gloveman, an exceptionally versatile fielder, and a part-time-yet-reliable spinner- New Zealand’s Glenn Phillips was the first signing announced by the franchise in a busy window. A player who has rocked the world of T20 cricket, Phillips joined the squad as a replacement for the injured Jofra Archer.
Five feet 9 inches tall, sturdy build, shiny blonde hair, and determined eyes - Glenn Phillips is one of the biggest rising stars in T20s, and a name IPL fans have been waiting to watch in the league. This even more so, after some top performances across other T20 leagues, like the Super Smash, Caribbean Premier League (CPL) and The Hundred.
Phillips is a complete entertainer with his out-of-the-box, modern-day hitting, but can also figure ways to get himself out of a difficult position during the game. His late reverse sweeps and quirky reverse scoops are a work of art, and are what T20 batting is all about.
Born in South Africa, the 24-year-old is an “every-chore man” for New Zealand, and is already an integral member of their T20I side. Having made his debut in 2017, he’s scored New Zealand’s fastest T20I hundred (46 balls), and scores at a SR of 140+ in T20s overall. He’s currently with the Royals, but in Barbados – and will arrive in time for our first game against Punjab Kings. His exact role in the side remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure – he’s an entertainment package.
Another talented T20 batter who made his debut in 2017, Evin Lewis’ initial claim to fame was his explosive batting against India in the 2016 World T20. Lewis is a well-recognised power-hitter who is known to change the course of a game with his timing and the ability to create momentum from nowhere. A star across various T20 leagues such as the CPL and the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), Lewis has also left his mark in the IPL previously, when playing for the Mumbai Indians.
A big-match player, the 29-year-old brings both entertainment and experience in equal measure, with over 5000 T20 runs at a strike rate of 144. In 45 T20Is for the West Indies, Lewis has scored two hundreds and nine fifties while striking at a magnificent 158.03. These are numbers of a player who on his day could be an absolute game-changer, and make our batting a lot more dangerous against any bowling attack. He has replaced Jos Buttler this season - as Jos & Louise had their second baby a few days ago – and could be a potential matchwinner in the second half of IPL 2021.
Oshane Thomas and the Royals is a story that keeps going strong! Having been with the Royals in 2019 and 2020, OT (as we all know him) was released earlier this year before the auction. He\"s still been part of our family in recent weeks though, as he’s been playing for Barbados Royals in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), and was announced as our final replacement signing last week, bringing him back to the franchise for a third consecutive season.
The 6”6’ Jamaican T20 giant has featured in four matches for the Royals in 2019, bagging five wickets in the process. His overall T20 numbers are impressive as well, with 61 wickers in 50 matches with a SR of 16.2. Much loved at the franchise and always raring to go, OT pacer could potentially bring the X-factor in the UAE.
Coming finally to the most tantalising signing of the season - none other than the world’s No.1 T20 bowler, Tabraiz Shamsi. The left-arm wrist-spinner, who’s famous as much for his incredible celebrations as his fine bowling, replaced Andrew Tye in the Royals squad. The 31-year-old, who made his T20 debut way back in 2011 at a very young age, burst into the limelight in the CPL where he represented the St Kitts & Nevis Patriots in 2015. Since that season, in which he claimed 11 wickets averaging just 13, there’s been no looking back for the T20 beast who has take the cricketing world by storm.
He made it to the IPL in 2016 with RCB, but his stay was short-lived, claiming three wickets in four matches. This time around though, Shamsi comes into the tournament much more established, experienced, and with a lot more expectations. He is not only a match-winner with his bowling, but is also a powerful yet delightful presence on the field and in the dressing room. His energy is often seen to be the highlight of any game, across teams that he represents, and that could bring so much to this Royals squad. Known as ‘Magician’ in cricket circles, Shamsi will add a never-seen-before flavour to the Royals family, and we’re so excited to see him in the UAE and link up with the rest of the boys.
It’s been a long wait for the second half of IPL 2021, with the uncertainty around the tournament to begin with, availability issues around some of our biggest names, and then the dash to sign up the best possible replacements. It’s safe to say that the Royals management have navigated these choppy waters fairly well, and have brought in names that have excited Royals fans everywhere. And while it’ll be interesting to see how Sanga, Penney and team find the right combination when we play our first game on 21st September, all we know is that they have the right men for the job.
What do you make of the Royals’ replacement signings? Send in your views on Twitter at @rajasthanroyals or to me @cricketpun_duh