Rajasthan Royals have got off to a decent start in IPL 2020, winning two out of four games, while also being on the right side of a couple of nail-biters.
England all-rounder, Stokes, is finally headed for the IPL after spending time with his family in New Zealand. While Stokes has to undergo the six-day quarantine, the Royals may discuss how to accommodate their star all-rounder.
Ben Stokes has played 22 games for the Royals from 2018 and has not had the best returns. Averaging 18 with the bat and 34 with the ball, he is yet to mark the Royals with his performance.
Despite his average returns, Stokes remains a crucial part of the side due to his options. Being a formidable middle-order batsman and a pacer who can bowl at various stages of the innings makes it tough to ignore him in the side.
His performance over the last year, with impressive performances in the World cup and The Ashes followed by a beautiful English summer this season, would give the Royals a lot of confidence.
His arrival can help solve Royal’s middle-order issues. While the top order has a lot of experience and skill, the middle order consists of inexperienced players and Robin Uthappa. The knowledge and skill of Ben Stokes would be crucial as his presence can help Royal’s form a more emphatic middle order.
Who makes way for Ben Stokes?
Being an overseas player, the Royals will have to look at which of the four overseas players they have to leave. While Smith, Butler, and Archer name themselves in the lineup, due to their skill and experience with the Royals, the talented Tom Curran will likely make way for Ben Stokes.
Tom Curran has played in all of Royals matches so far, picking up three wickets while scoring 68 runs with a one 50. While his batting has been impressive in the limited opportunities he’s got, his bowling has so far not been up to the mark with him being taken for runs each game.
Coming in place of Curran would also allow the Royals to field a side with more batting depth. While Curran had done well in the chances he got, he comes in too low to make an impact, whereas Stokes would feature in the middle order allowing him to steer the innings better.
Changes to the batting lineup With Ben Stokes?
In the games so far, the middle order consisted of Robin Uthappa, Riyan Parag, and Rahul Tewatia. While Uthappa may keep his place at number four, Ben Stokes will likely play at number five, subject to the overs remaining. Another alternative could be moving Robin Uthappa up the order while getting Steve Smith to number four, allowing him and Stokes to control the middle order better.
Will Ben Stokes Bowl?
Towards the end of Ben Stokes’s dream summer, Stokes had strained his quadriceps. The injury restricted him from bowling as many overs as he would generally bowl in a game. While he may have recovered from his injury, he will be coming off a massive break. It is still in question if Ben Stokes takes up the bowling workload or plays as a batsman for a few games.
There is also the case of Stokes being used to bowl only when needed. Though this sounds like a good option, it may still raise questions to the Royals as they’d be missing a star bowler’s services who can bowl his quota with ease. His ability to pick up wickets at crucial junctures may be omitted, should Ben Stokes be restricted to batting only. Whether he plays as a batsman or all-rounder will be announced soon, with many eagerly waiting to know.
Team Composition After the Arrival of Ben Stokes:
Assuming Ben Stokes comes in for Tom Curran, the team composition is unlikely to change too much. With the Royals fielding up to seven players who can bowl, the entry of Ben Stokes will not make much of a difference and will provide more options as well.
- Steve Smith
2. Jos Butler
3. Sanju Samson
4. Robin Uthappa
5. Ben Stokes
6. Mahipal Lomror
7. Riyan Parag
8. Rahul Tewatia
9. Jofra Archer
10. Shreyas Gopal
11. Jaydev Unadkat