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IPL 2021: Royals face big test without Ben Stokes

Ayaz Memon/Mumbai
Filed on April 14, 2021
Ben Stokes was ruled out of the rest of the tournament. (BCCI)

The Royals face Delhi Capitals on Thursday


Ben Stokes being ruled out of the tournament after just one match this season (with a fractured finger) is a cruel blow to Rajasthan Royals’ hopes. With Jofra Archer also unsure if his injury will heal in time for him to play even a few matches, the situation looks grim.

Stokes made virtually no impact in the opening match against Punjab Kings, bowling one over for 12 runs, dropping a catch, and then being dismissed for a duck with the team chasing a massive 222 to win. A totally uninspiring performance from the world’s best all-rounder.

Yet, Stokes was the linchpin of the team because of his multi-faceted skills. A great deal of RR’s plans, being masterminded by former Sri Lanka great Kumar Sangakkara, would have been built around how to exploit Stokes’s batting and bowling skills to optimum advantage.

Stokes had the class and experience to be the game-changer for RR. Now he’s gone. It’s a major setback without doubt and will compel massive rethink in the highest echelons of the team’s think-tank.

An obvious fall-out of Stokes’s departure is that the burden on Sanju Samson, Jos Buttler and Chris Morris will grow exponentially. Along with Archer, this was the five-member leadership group on which RR’s aspirations were hoisted.

Archer hasn’t made it to the tournament yet, Stokes has gone within a week, leaving the other three with an onerous task.

Stokes’s departure opens up the door for David Miller, a T20 specialist, but even so, the loss of the champion all-rounder will be felt. More so by skipper Samson, who started off with a brilliant century against Punjab. How he copes with the strain of losing a major player – as captain and batsman -- remains to be seen.

The Delhi Capitals, on the other hand, are in a very healthy situation. Their top order was in raging form when they beat the Chennai Super Kings in stunning fashion. Prithvi Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan were brilliant and devastating, providing a scintillating first wicket partnership of 138 at almost 10 runs an over which helped them overhaul the target of 189 with a lot to spare.

Delhi will now be further fortified with Kagiso Rabada – the most prolific wicket-taker last season -- eligible for selection, having completed the quarantine period. Rabada is a menacing fast bowler that could put RR in a lot of trouble.

The dilemma for Delhi, of course, is who to omit from the team that played the first match to accommodate Rabada. Among overseas bowlers, Chris Woakes was impressive in the match and Marcus Stoinis’s all-round abilities have won him a place in the playing XI regularly.

Thursday's match

Rajasthan Royals vs Delhi Capitals

Mumbai

6pm

Players To Watch Out For:

RR: Sanju Samson, Jos Buttler, Chris Morris

DC: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, R Ashwin





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