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Update Top-order dilemma for Rajasthan Royals

[Image: there-is-a-case-for-smith-to-d.jpg]

In effect, Rajasthan Royals had lost the contest against Royal Challengers Bangalore inside the first six overs at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Because for a second game running, the top-order trio of Steve Smith, Jos Buttler and Sanju Samson encountered failures leaving the side's relatively inexperienced middle-order to do much of the heavy lifting.

Steve Smith and Samson, who hit twin fifties each in the games at Sharjah, have found it tougher to force the pace at Dubai and Abu Dhabi respectively while Buttler is yet to make a contribution of note despite threatening to do so before falling against the run of play. Captain Smith has stressed the need for this troika, of which he is a part, to pull its socks up.

"Our top-3 should be doing the job a lot more. The last two games it cost us," he said after the defeat to RCB. "We bat quite deep, but our top-3 need to bat longer and get ourselves into the innings. [Mahipal] Lomror played nice under pressure and to get 155, we didn't look like getting that many; he played a mature innings. Just a few areas which we've to work on and we'll go back and look at those."

Smith's opinions were echoed by the team's head Andrew McDonald, who agreed that his team had been derailed by its top-order's inability to bat beyond the PowerPlay. "We felt clearly RCB taking wickets in the PowerPlay probably derailed us through the middle where we had to rebuild for a little bit longer than we'd like. It's not a major concern , we've got some world class players at the top but most times they are going to succeed. But yes, clearly that's an area from this game," he said.

One of the possible suggestions mooted to the Royals involves splitting the Buttler and Smith pair and having one of the senior players bat through the middle. Robin Uthappa, currently the designated No.4 batsman, has scores of 5, 9, 2 and 17 in the competition so far and has struggled to force the pace. Yashasvi Jaiswal, the top-scorer at the U-19 World Cup, has been left out after one failure against Chennai Super Kings and is a worthy fit at the top of the order, as is Manan Vohra.

McDonald said his team will be averse to making any knee-jerk decisions but will contemplate possible solutions to the matter. "That's [needing to split Buttler and Smith] probably a reflection of the last two games," he said. "If you look at the first two games, the second one in particular, Jos and Steve right at the top and Sanju coming in at 3, we feel as though as the best players at the top getting the most number of balls gives us the best opportunity of winning.

"It's something we'll continue to discuss. Like most teams at this time of the tournament, we probably haven't settled on the team we're thinking. But that's 100% percent the correct team for us at this time. We're learning a lot about our players and we've added 12 new players this year. Every game we get some information but the key thing is to make really good decisions moving forward and we'll assess and see where we're at and no doubt make some changes where needed."


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