In what comes as a massive blow for the Rajasthan Royals (RR), Ben Stokes has been ruled out of the remainder of the 2021 season of the Indian Premier League (IPL). The England all-rounder sustained a finger injury during RR’s opening encounter against the Punjab Kings (PBKS).
Stokes hurt his finger while taking Chris Gayle’s catch at long-on in the 10th over of the game. It is learnt that Stokes has broken the index finger on his left hand. Thus, it is going to rule Stokes out of the entire season. He had also missed the first six games for RR last season as he was in New Zealand to be with his ill father.
The absence of Ben Stokes will be a huge setback for Rajasthan as they are already without their ace overseas fast bowler Jofra Archer who is recovering from a hand injury. He underwent surgery and is recovering. Moreover, he will return to light training later this week and gradually increase his workload.
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However, there is no clarity on when he can join the RR team bio-secure bubble and thus, his availability for this season is not clear yet. RR team director Kumar Sangakkara was very hopeful that Archer can play a few games towards the end of the tournament but he also had mentioned that they wouldn’t take any risks over the Barbados-born England pacer’s fitness.
Despite not being able to take further part in this 2021 season, it is understood that Ben Stokes will continue to stay with the RR squad and the group to ‘provide his valued support and inputs off the field’. David Miller and Liam Livingstone are the other overseas batting options present in the Rajasthan squad.
Miller has been around the IPL scene for a long time now and has played 80 matches in the Indian T20 extravaganza. 79 of those came for Punjab Kings (formerly, Kings XI Punjab). The South African left-hander was bought by RR for his base price of INR 75 lakh in the IPL auction for the 2020 season. Last season, he played just one match and was runout without facing a single ball. Livingstone has played four games for RR which came back in 2019. He scored 70 runs at a strike-rate of 145.83 in those four games.
Rajasthan started their 2021 campaign with a loss, in which Ben Stokes could not contribute much, and their next game will be against Delhi Capitals on the 15th of April.