IPL 2018 Preview: Pressure on Ben Stokes and Yuvraj Singh as Rajasthan Royals take on Kings XI Punjab

Ajit Vijaykumar 20:15 05/05/2018
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Stokes has been one of the biggest disappointments. Image: IPL/Twitter.

Rajasthan Royals paid a little under $2 million for the services of England all-rounder Ben Stokes. But after eight matches Stokes has failed to deliver with the bat and ball.

Stokes has managed just 148 runs from eight matches at an average of 18.5 and a strike-rate of 122. His bowling has been even worse, with just one wicket so far. An economy rate of 9.8 means Stokes has been a burden on the field rather than an asset.

Rajasthan are currently at the bottom of the table with three wins from eight games. And Stokes’ horror show, along with below par performance of pacer Jaydev Unadkat, has played a major role in it as Ajinkya Rahane’s team had pinned almost all of its hopes on the Englishman after the unavailability of Steve Smith.

In their last game against Delhi Daredevils, Rajasthan made a valiant effort in their chase of 151 from 12 overs. Jos Buttler opened the innings and smashed 67 from 26 balls but the Royals still fell four runs short.

Their opponents on Sunday are Kings XI Punjab. With five wins from eight matches, Punjab are in a comfortable position. But they did taste defeat in their last game – against Mumbai Indians – and will need their batsmen to up the ante at Indore.

Players in focus

Yuvraj Singh is having a nightmare IPL. He has scored an appalling 64 runs from five innings and was even dropped for a game. He has bowled just two overs this season and it will be difficult for Kings XI to keep giving him chances when they can give another player an opportunity.

For Rajasthan, all-rounder Jofra Archer will need to step up given the poor form of Stokes. The West Indian was sent too low down the order against Delhi and it’s probably time to give him more exposure higher up the order. With the ball, Archer is one of the best in T20s.

Likely line-ups

Kings XI Punjab: Chris Gayle, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Manoj Tiwary, Karun Nair, Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, Ravi Ashwin (c), Andrew Tye, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Ankit Rajpoot

Rajasthan Royals: Jos Buttler (wk), Ajinkya Rahane (c), Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Rahul Tripathi, Stuart Binny, K Gowtham, Jofra Archer, Shreyas Gopal, Jaydev Unadkat, Ben Laughlin

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