After a rich 2017 campaign for the Rising Pune Supergiant, Ben Stokes once again was auctioned to become the costliest player in the Indian Premier League 2018 season. Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals returned, and the latter broke the banks to get Stokes for a whopping Rs 12.5 crore.
That comes after the player last season was bought for Rs 14.5 crore, which in turn was also made him the highest-earning player last season. But what happened for Pune, is now not happening for the Royals. RPS reached the final of 2017 edition of the IPL as Ben Stokes had a superb campaign and was considered the most valuable player.
316 runs from 12 matches blended with a century in addition to 12 crucial wickets, Stokes was the heartthrob of the IPL. This term, things seem awry for the player, who hasn’t quite lived up to the reputation and is yet to take off. Five matches have gone by, Stokes finds himself in a position of discomfort.
So where it has all gone wrong? Or Will Stokes make a comeback to help the Rajasthan Royals make a mark?
Royals in a position of bother
The way RR played the last two matches against Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings, they looked very depleted and out of sync. In both games, they batted poorly besides the bowling too which led them down. The team is highly dependant on Ben Stokes and when he isn’t clicking, the team itself looks like a shadow.
After five games Royals have four points and its the manner in which they have been defeated is the worry. Its a big work for the seniors to get together and chalk out a game plan so that they can muster the results in their way. Stokes needs to get into the groove as a lot of hopes is pinned on him and that could be a helping factor.
Stokes’ bowling has not clicked
Stokes, in particular, played poorly in both games. What was striking was the way he bowled against Suresh Raina against CSK in Pune.
The short balls did not work, low full-toss deliveries into the pad were dispatched as Stokes groaned and looked unhappy with his performance. Being said that, he also allowed the frustration to get the better of him as he got involved in an exchange of words with Shane Watson. The former Aussie international slammed the IPL’s 2nd ton this season after a flamboyant 106 runs.
In bowling Stokes has only picked one wicket this season after five games. His economy is on the higher side of 7.87 and average wise he has struggled as well.
Inconsistent Middle Order
A strong middle order is vital to a team’s success and that’s precisely has been concerning the Royals. Stokes has scored 117 runs in five matches and it’s his strike rate (120.22) that has not allowed him to bat freely. He has struggled against spin be it against KKR or CSK.
The versatile southpaw has not got into the groove in which he would have liked. Pune thrived on Stokes’ middle-order aggression last season and that is something RR are struggling to find. Another concern is that of his England colleague Jos Buttler, who too hasn’t quite got going. What’s the solution? Buttler often opened the innings for Mumbai Indians earlier. Will he be promoted to give them the ideal start? Let us wait and watch.
Rs 12.5 crore spent on Stokes means the player is set to play at least the 14 matches in group stages. That, in turn, means RR is spending around Rs 89.28 lacs per match on the all-rounder. With 117 runs and just one wicket to his name, the money spent isn’t quite doing justice for RR’s ROI.
Moreover, the franchise has also spent heavily on Jaydev Unadkat and he too has not fared like what he did last season for RPS. With both Stokes and Unadkat not doing as expected, it seems Rajasthan Royals’ investments were not wise. The onus will be on the duo to deliver and prove the management correct.
Stokes needs to come alive
The world’s one of the best all-rounders is a man of fire. He needs to keep to the basics and play with a calm head from here on. Rajasthan has nine matches left in the group stages and Stokes needs to come to the party. Given his attributes and quality, he can do wonders for the Ajinkya Rahane-led side. Perhaps when Shane Warne returns, an intelligent pep talk could do wonders.