Losing Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler at this stage of the tournament is surely the last thing Rajasthan Royals would have wanted. With 6 wins in 13 games, Royals’ playoff hopes are hanging by a fine thread. A loss in the final game will end their campaign on that very day.
And even before that do-or-die clash, they had to cope such a big loss. Jos Buttler had been an absolute revelation for the Royals since being promoted as an opener. In six games, he scored five consecutive fifties and missed the last one by 11 runs. It all began when Royals needed an improbable 151 in 12 overs against Delhi Daredevils. Till then, Buttler was struggling to perform as a middle-order batsman. However, he was asked to open in that game and it turned out to be masterstroke. In the five game, he passed 50 each time. The last two knocks were unbeaten 90s, coming in wins against Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians.
In those five innings, he has amassed 389 runs in 236 balls at a conventional strike rate of 164.83. It was Buttler’s form which revived Royals’ fortunes in the tournament. He played his last game for the Royals against Kolkata Knight Riders where he scored 39.
On the other hand, although Stokes failed to replicate his last season’s heroics, his presence in the team is a real morale-booster. The allrounder could not quite managed to impress this season but made a big mark in his final game against the Knight Riders. He took 3 for just 15 runs to help Royals claw their way back in the game briefly.
However, the Royals will not be able to use their services in the upcoming game or games if they manage to advance. Both the players have been included in England’s Test squad for the first Test against Pakistan.
The Royals’ team-management will have a hard time replacing the duo but they can’t do much apart from looking for options. As of now, Australian duo D’Arcy Short and Ben Laughlin look likely to make it to the playing XI.
Both Short and Laughlin had represented Royals in the initial stages of the tournament but failed to impress. Short, who arrived in Indian on the back of a stunning Big Bash League, managed to score only 115 runs in 7 games before being dropped. On the other hand, Laughlin picked only five wickets from his five outings before making way for Jofra Archer. However, with not much option available, the Royals are likely to recall the duo in the playing eleven.