Jos Buttler’s recall to the England Test side was a bittersweet moment for the Rajasthan Royals. The IPL franchise are involved in a five-way race for two playoff spots but will miss the services of the Englishman for their remaining games.
Buttler has been almost single-handedly carrying the Royals with the bat with an incredible run of five consecutive half-centuries which came to an end in the side’s defeat to Kolkata Knight Riders on Tuesday.
That match turned out to be the opener’s last for the team as he departed for England to join up with the Test squad for the series against Pakistan.
In an emotional farewell message posted by Buttler on Instagram, the 27-year-old has praised the family atmosphere at the franchise.
“A massive thank you to everyone involved in the very special Rajasthan Royals set up! What an amazing few weeks in India with some fantastic memories made on and off the pitch. Such a great changing room to be a part of and incredible family feel the franchise have developed. Have loved my time with everyone and I will be watching on Saturday as we make it through to the play offs,” Buttler wrote on his Instagram post.
A massive thank you to everyone involved in the very special @rajasthanroyals set up! What an amazing few weeks in India with some fantastic memories made on and off the pitch. Such a great changing room to be a part of and incredible family feel the franchise have developed. Have loved my time with everyone and I will be watching on Saturday as we make it through to the play offs!! #hallabol
He isn’t the only England star to bid farewell to the team with all-rounder Ben Stokes too departing for London after being named in the Test squad.
Though Stokes did not have the best of tournaments with both bat and ball, he insisted that he had given it his all.
“Had a great time with Rajasthan Royals what a bunch of amazing people this franchise has, individually very disappointing but gave everything I had to give just wasn’t meant to be, hope we can get across the line tonight and make it through to the playoffs, would love to see these boys lifting the trophy at the end of the season as all the hard work put in by everyone deserves it,” Stokes wrote on his Instagram profile.
Had a great time with @rajasthanroyals what a bunch of amazing people this franchise has,individually very disappointing but gave everything I had to give just wasn't meant to be,hope we can get across the line tonight and make it through to the playoffs,would love to see these boys lifting the trophy at the end of the season as all the hard work put in by everyone deserves it #hallabol #RR
Rajasthan Royals will take on Royal Challengers Bangalore at Jaipur on May 19 in their final league match.
For league-leaders Sunrisers, it will be an opportunity to fine-tune their preparations for the playoffs for which they have already qualified. With 18 points from 12 matches, Kane Williamson’s men are bound to finish among the top two teams, which means that they will get two bites of the cherry if needed to make it to the summit clash.
Royal Challengers, on the other hand, are in a five-way race for the two spots in the eliminator and need to win both their remaining fixtures to stand a chance.
MOMENTUM WITH BANGALORE
Virat Kohli’s men are still languishing in the second-last spot in the league table but they will be the in-form side when they take the field against the Sunrisers. The Royal Challengers have won their last two matches in impressive style with Kohli and AB de Villiers firing on all cylinders.
And although Hyderabad have been the team of the tournament so far, their run of five successive wins was brought to a grinding half by Chennai Super Kings, the team they will in all probability face in the first Qualifier in the playoffs.
SKIPPERS LEADING THE WAY
Both sides have skippers who have led the way with the bat. For Bangalore, Kohli has been the standout batsman once again after notching up 511 runs so far at an average of 57.11.
Williamson’s maiden stint as Sunrisers skipper has been equally impressive, if not more. While his tactical acumen has been superb, his form with the bat has been inspiring as well with 544 runs in 12 matches at an astonishing average of 60.44.
Both the captains will be key for their respective sides once again at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru come Thursday.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Parthiv Patel (wk), Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers, Moeen Ali, Mandeep Singh, Sarfaraz Khan, Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Shikhar Dhawan, Alex Hales, Kane Williamson (c), Manish Pandey, Shakib Al Hasan, Deepak Hooda, Shreevats Goswami (wk), Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddharth Kaul, Sandeep Sharma
Kings XI Punjab are hoping ace spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman is declared fit for their crucial match against Mumbai Indians in the IPL on Wednesday.
The Afghan spinner hurt his bowling hand during the match against Kolkata Knight Riders and subsequently missed the heavy defeat against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
In that match, Aussie all-rounder Marcus Stoinis played in Mujeeb’s place. Even though Stoinis has not set the stage on fire with the bat or ball, Kings XI don’t have many overseas bowling options to chose from as Andrew Tye is already in the XI. If Mujeeb is unfit for Wednesday’s match, Stoinis will most likely retain his place.
A good Fantasy Team option is Mitchell McClenaghan, if you don’t already have him. The Mumbai Indians left-arm pacer has picked up 12 wickets from 10 games and went for seven an over in the previous match.
Ben Cutting is an under-rated option – in the mould of Stoinis. Even though he is not getting to bowl many overs, his batting is effective.