Good news for Capitals with Rabada and Nortje likely to be available, while the Royals face selection dilemma with injured Stokes out
These teams are fire. Delhi Capitals once struggled to find an identity for themselves. Now they are the home of young Indian batting geniuses. Rajasthan Royals see-sawed from one extreme to the other, not so much a cricket team as an unruly teenager. But now mum’s put her foot down – yes, we want you to picture Kumar Sangakkara as mum – and they’ve finally promised to behave.
Sanju Samson threatened to exceed those expectations on Monday, when he stayed calm even though he couldn’t time the ball at the start of his innings. By the end of it, he wasn’t so much a man with a piece of wood in his hand, he was King Kong with a goddamn axe. If the new captain can reprise this zen at the crease for, say, a full season, the Royals are going to be trou-bleeee.
The Capitals probably aren’t too worried though. They have got monsters of their own. Well-rested ones too. Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje should be available for selection again after completing their quarantine periods. Hear them roar in T-minus 24 hours. Give or take.
In the news
- Ben Stokes wows the world with his acrobatics. He doesn’t need to. He’s got power. He can banana swing the ball. But he still insists on trying to be the best fielder in the world and hurt his finger to rule himself out of the IPL.
- In better news for the Royals, Jofra Archer has been cleared to train again. Only train. Not play.
- The Capitals’ Axar Patel is unlikely to take any part in this game as he continues to recover from a bout of Covid-19.
Rajasthan Royals: 1 Jos Buttler, 2 Manan Vohra, 3 Sanju Samson (capt & wk), 4 Liam Livingstone, 5 Shivam Dube, 6 Riyan Parag, 7 Chris Morris, 8 Rahul Tewatia, 9 Shreyas Gopal, 10 Chetan Sakariya, 11 Andrew Tye/Mustafizur Rahman
Delhi Capitals: 1 Prithvi Shaw, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Ajinkya Rahane, 4 Rishabh Pant (capt & wk), 5 Marcus Stoinis, 6 Shimron Hetmyer, 7 R Ashwin, 8 Amit Mishra, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Anrich Nortje, 11 Avesh Khan
- Losing an allrounder like Stokes can potentially break a team because he just doesn’t have a like-for-like replacement. All you can do is plug the batting hole or the bowling hole and pray that in the end you made the right choice. Liam Livingstone might be that choice. He was Perth Scorchers’ second-highest scorer as they stormed into the Big Bash finals only two months ago. He also hit 28 sixes in that tournament. Only one man bested him – Alex Hales – and he played one extra innings.
- Once a bowler who appeared enchanted by his own pace, Avesh Khan now seems to learnt how to use it better. Take his wicket of MS Dhoni for example. He knew it was more important to hit that back of a length and cramp the Chennai Super Kings captain for his natural talents to yield any results. If he can keep this up – especially in the powerplay when he got the white ball to move around – the Capitals can use their big guns – Rabada and Nortje – to address a problem they had in the 2020 season. Their economy rate of 8.62 through the middle overs (7-16) was the worst among all the teams.
Stats that matter
- A T20 opener needs to get off the blocks quickly. But from 2008 to 2013, Shikhar Dhawan’s strike-rate in the powerplay was just 118. Perhaps that was a function of him playing second fiddle to the likes of David Warner when he was at Sunrisers Hyderabad. However, since his move to the Capitals in 2019, he too has become a fearsome ball-basher, with a strike-rate of 143 in the first six overs.
- Last season, Royals had the worst economy rate (12.28) and picked up the fewest wickets (17) in the back end (16-20) of an innings. So, they broke the bank to fix it. Chris Morris had an economy rate of 7 in the last four overs of a game in IPL 2020. It was the best among everyone who bowled at least 50 deliveries in this phase. But, based on the events of their last match, perhaps even he needs a little help. So, is it time for Andrew Tye? The Australian maintained an economy rate of 8.3 in the death in the recent Big Bash League. Only Rashid Khan (8.00) and Adam Milne (8.36) fared better (min. 50 balls bowled).
- Among those who have taken at least 30 wickets in the IPL, Rabada’s strike-rate of 13.1 is the absolute best. He even manages to improve on that while doing the most difficult part of his job – death bowling, where he conjures a wicket every eight balls, once again the undisputed best.
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
England vs New Zealand 2021
England fast bowler may face surgery as ECB plan next steps of recovery
Jofra Archer has been ruled out of England’s two-Test series against New Zealand, starting at Lord’s on June 2, and may face surgery on his troublesome right elbow after failing to come through this week’s return to first-class action.
Archer, who was withdrawn from this year’s IPL prior to its postponement earlier this month, had undergone a series of cortisone injections to enable him to get through the T20I leg of England’s white-ball tour of India in March.
He also underwent an operation on the middle finger of his right hand while receiving further treatment on his elbow, to remove a splinter of glass following a bizarre incident involving a fish-tank. He showed no ill effects following that treatment and has been playing without protection on the affected digit.
After a low-key return to action for Sussex’s second XI against Surrey two weeks ago, Archer appeared to be returning to his best when he picked up two wickets, including his England Test team-mate Zak Crawley, in a hostile new-ball burst on his return to the County Championship against Kent at Hove this week.
However, he bowled just five overs in Kent’s second innings, and none on the final two days of the match, a situation that appeared to have caused confusion for his Sussex captain Ben Brown on the third morning, when he gestured for Archer to open the bowling but had to turn instead to his team-mate George Garton.
“I think there was some confusion over the state of his elbow,” Ian Salisbury, Sussex’s head coach, said at the time. “Ben thought he was going to bowl but his elbow’s sore and so he couldn’t bowl. Regarding any other information about his elbow, it’s the ECB’s job to answer that.”
An ECB statement subsequently confirmed that Archer “was suffering from pain in his right elbow when bowling and was unable to bowl in the final two days of the match.
“The England and Sussex medical teams will now seek guidance,” the statement continued, “and Archer will see a medical consultant later this week to determine the next course of action on the management of his elbow.”
The option of surgery may be the preferred course of action for Archer and for England – not to mention his IPL franchise, Rajasthan Royals – given his importance to the team’s plans across formats in the back-end of the year.
As the MVP in the last IPL in November 2020, and following a series of hostile displays in the 3-2 series loss in India, Archer’s value to England’s T20I attack is paramount, especially given that the team will go into the T20 World Cup in October and November as one of the favourites, and seeking to become the first team to hold the 50-over and 20-over titles concurrently.
Then there is the Ashes campaign in Australia hot on that tournament’s heels – a tour that England’s Test captain, Joe Root, admitted this week was the “pinnacle” of their plans for 2021, notwithstanding a five-match home series against India before that.
In the meantime, England have already indicated that they will be giving opportunities to fringe members of their Test squad during the New Zealand series – not least among them, Archer’s fellow Sussex seamer Ollie Robinson, who has been a fixture in the bio-secure environment without yet being given a Test debut.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket
Recent Match Report – Kent vs Sussex Group 3 2021
A whole lot of not a lot at Hove, but it’s an improvement on this time last year
Sussex 256 (van Zyl 52; Quinn 4-54, Gilchrist 3-51, Stevens 3-64) drew with Kent 145 (Leaning 63, Robinson 3-29, Garton 3-65) and 387 for 4 dec (Leaning 127*, Robinson 85, Crawley 85)
A match that had once seemed likely to end in a Sussex victory with Jofra Archer displaying his fitness for Test cricket ended in the most sclerotic of draws with Archer not even on the field. The first of these outcomes had always seemed likely once Kent had survived a short session on Saturday, and the second was probable once the England bowler’s sore elbow had prevented him bowling that same evening.
Despite their lowly positions in Group C these sides never appeared to contemplate the possibility of setting up a game and the 43 overs we saw this afternoon might not be numbered among the most gripping of the season. Other correspondents could even judge them balls-achingly tedious.
But Jack Leaning will take a different view. The former Yorkshire batsman notched only his second first-class century since 2017 and will approach Thursday’s game against Glamorgan in a more confident mood. Likewise, from their different perspectives, Tom Clark, who took his maiden first-class wicket, and Tawanda Muyeye, who batted half an hour for 12 not out on his debut. A drop of red ink is as comforting as a duvet to a young professional making his way. Every solid defensive shot is a moment.
And if these slightly aimless sessions were still a disappointment we could scourge no one but ourselves. On Friday, when a 104-over day had heaved itself beyond seven o’clock, we little thought how fortunate we were to see any cricket at all, let alone to be doing so when millions could not.
Zak Crawley was batting on that second evening, so such ingratitude required public abasement. But our penance, such as it might have been, was useless. The following evening, when only 24 overs were possible, Crawley was dismissed by the excellent Jack Carson and even that moment was given the elbow by Archer’s inaction, forced or otherwise.
Thus to Sunday with the Channel turquoise in its shallows but gravely blue farther out to sea. A pleasant dawn was replaced by an unlucky bag of showers, some of them slight, others heavy with Anabaptist doom. While David Millns and Graham Lloyd made one of their inspections the clouds to the west were grey as an undertaker’s work-suit; to the east they were blue as one of Bryan Ferry’s more exotic two-piece numbers. Birds gathered ravenously on the white pyramidal roofs of the hospitality suites. By the way, the gulls in Hove have clearly been watching Alfred Hitchcock movies; I’ve seen smaller turkeys. The white thugs waited for scraps; we waited for cricket.
At ten past one our patience received its reward when the Sussex team, minus Archer, took the field and Carson bowled the first over from the Cromwell Road End. The cricket soon became good-humoured, gentler in its rhythms and enriched by jokes and encouragement. Neither side could win the game but the practice had value for Leaning, whose back foot drive off George Garton was the stroke of the day. A little while later he swept Delray Rawlins for a single to reach his century and Ollie Robinson was attempting to emulate that feat before he was lbw to Clark for 85 late in the piece.
And so concluded a match in which we had been at the mercy of not only the elements but also the endless work of the Sussex groundstaff and the good judgement of Messrs Millns and Lloyd. But umpires are rather fortunate at the County Ground in that they are two of the few officials in this area to whom folk actually pay attention. There are large parts of Brighton and Hove where people pat legislation on its head and send it over to Eastbourne. Visit North Laine and you will find businesses that seem to regard official forms as entertainments to which only other people need pay any attention. One would not be surprised to find a Private Walker or two sidling in the alleyways: “Need any vaccines, guvnor? I can help you there.”
(And should Millns and Lloyd ever jack in umpiring they could go into business together selling perfumed unguents and other bathroom aromas. They already have the names for it. “Oh darling, could you be terribly sweet and pop into Millns and Lloyd for a rosewood and peony diffuser?” This would be a tremendous achievement for two lads from Clipstone and Accrington, where, one imagines, no-frills aerosols are produced by firms called something like Broadbottom and Snout.)
Such reveries occur to one on these afternoons at Hove, for this place retains its tender hold on the heart, even on days when there is nothing much going on. A year ago at least one of us would have paid twenty quid simply to sit here for half an hour during the perfect weather that taunted us during lockdown. And it is easy to be seduced by the County Ground, to be beguiled by its cricketing families, by the scent of the sea, by the view down Selborne Road and by the writers who have honoured this sacred space. Surely, one thinks, at odd moments, the romance is all too much, too heady…
And then one understands that resistance is utterly useless. In dusk’s first fading light a fox and vixen stroll over the outfield as though asserting some ancient right; perhaps they have their den in George Cox’s garden. And so, like the foxes, we go in search of supper and leave a great ground to its kindly ghosts on a spring evening.
Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the Times, ESPNcricinfo, Wisden, Southport Visiter and other publications
Recent Match Report – Glamorgan vs Yorkshire Group 3 2021
Only 13 overs possible on final day but Glamorgan batter impresses
Glamorgan 149 (Brook 3-13, Patterson 3-27) and 164 for 4 (Carlson 88*, Lloyd 40) drew with Yorkshire 230 (Root 99, Patterson 47*, Neser 5-39)
Persistent rain prevented a positive result in the LV=Insurance County Championship match between Glamorgan and Yorkshire in Cardiff with only 13 overs possible on the final day, but there was enough time for Kiran Carlson to continue his impressive season with his sixth fifty-plus score of this campaign.
The match was set up for an exciting finish at the close of day three with Glamorgan 27 runs in front with seven first innings wickets in hand. The weather meant that the players only made it into the middle at 4:15pm and Glamorgan successfully saw out a tricky session to secure the draw.
It was a frustrating experience in the hours before they started with the sun shining just long enough for some hope to emerge only for the rain to reappear to send the groundsmen back to their hut.
A brilliant 99 from England captain Joe Root on day three had given Yorkshire hope of pushing for a win but first rain and then Carlson prevented that from happening. Carlson finished the day on 88 not out with Glamorgan 164 for 4.
When play did get started Yorkshire were convinced they had David Lloyd caught in the slips in the first over but it was off his thigh pad rather than his bat. As it was, they had Lloyd without adding to his overnight score when he was trapped lbw by Ben Coad. That was the only wicket to fall before the players shook hands.
Carlson has been Glamorgan’s most consistent batsman in this Championship campaign, and his runs meant that any chances of a Yorkshire win evaporated. Such was Carlson’s brilliance, had Glamorgan had more time, they might even have set up a victory chance of their own. Carlson now has four fifties and two hundreds this season as his potential has begun to be realised.
The draw gives Yorkshire 12 points, sending them to the top of Group 3 of the Championship, five points ahead of Lancashire who did not play in this round of matches.
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