Where Rajasthan Royals finished last season
Rajasthan Royals were runners-up in IPL 2022, finishing second in the league stage and losing the final to Gujarat Titans.
Rajasthan Royals squad for IPL 2023
Jos Buttler (wk), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Devdutt Padikkal, Sanju Samson (capt, wk), Shimron Hetmyer, Riyan Parag, Joe Root, Dhruv Jurel (wk), Donovan Ferreira, Kunal Singh Rathore, Jason Holder, Akash Vasisht, Abdul Basith, Yuzvendra Chahal, R Ashwin, Adam Zampa, KC Cariappa, M Ashwin, Trent Boult, Navdeep Saini, Obed McCoy, Kuldeep Sen, Kuldip Yadav, KM Asif, Prasidh Krishna
Player availability - Prasidh Krishna out
Prasidh Krishna was ruled out of the season with a stress fracture of the back, which requires surgery. No replacement has been named yet.
Obed McCoy is recovering from a knee injury and might sit out the early stages of the tournament.
England will start their summer with a Test against Ireland on June 1, which is four days after the IPL final. While Chennai Super Kings' Ben Stokes has said he will leave early to prepare, Joe Root's availability for Royals for the closing stages of the IPL is unknown. England have eased up their approach with regards to allowing players complete their franchise-league commitments, as was seen during their limited-overs tour to Bangladesh.
Probable first XI - Will Joe Root start?
1 Jos Buttler, 2 Yashasvi Jaiswal, 3 Sanju Samson (capt, wk), 4 Devdutt Padikkal, 5 Shimron Hetmyer, 6 Riyan Parag, 7 Jason Holder, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Navdeep Saini, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Trent Boult.
Royals could also go with Root instead of Holder. In that case, Devdutt Padikkal could make way for Kuldeep Sen, KM Asif or Kuldip Yadav to pump up their bowling stocks.
What's new with Rajasthan Royals this year
Jason Holder could be the solution to Royals' problem of a long tail. In IPL 2022, 99.47% of Royals' 2807 total runs came from the top seven.
They sent R Ashwin up the order as a pinch-hitter last season, which they could do once again if conditions suit the move. This year they can make the move with the comfort of knowing they have extra batting cushion if it does not come off.
The good - Strong core for Sanju Samson's boys
Royals have an experienced set of core players who are likely to feature in all of their games. Jos Buttler and Sanju Samson are gamechangers at the top; in Trent Boult, Yuzvendra Chahal and Ashwin they have wicket-taking as well as run-controlling options; Holder glues both disciplines together.
Kumar Sangakkara and Lasith Malinga continue as head coach and director of cricket, and fast bowling coach respectively.
The not-so-good - Inexperience in local pace ranks
They have Navdeep Saini but in Prasidh's absence, the inexperience of back-up bowlers Kuldip Yadav and Kuldeep Sen could show. Probably one to keep in mind if they bring in a Prasidh replacement.
They also lack like-for-like cover for Holder.
Royals' first two home games will be in Guwahati in Assam and not in Jaipur in Rajasthan, meaning a lack of familiarity to start off. And they don't play in Jaipur till April 19th, their sixth game of the season.
They largely have gaps of 2-3 days between their games (just twice, once at the end of April and then before their last league game of the season, do they have a four-day gap) so fatigue could be a factor.