IPL 2017 Qualifier 1: Selection headache for RPS after Ben Stokes’ departure
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IPL 2017 Qualifier 1: Selection headache for RPS after Ben Stokes’ departure

Ben Stokes has been an influential member of the Rising Pune Supergiant side this season and he will be tough to replace for RPS when they take on Mumbai Indians in Qualifier 1 of IPL 2017.

ipl 2017 Updated: May 15, 2017 17:25 IST
Rajesh Pansare
Rajesh Pansare
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
IPL 2017,IPL 2017 Qualifier 1,Ben Stokes
Rising Pune Supergiants will be without Ben Stokes when they face Mumbai Indians in Qualifier 1 of the Indian Premier League.(AFP)

The departure of Ben Stokes has given Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) a selection headache as they sit down to finalise their playing XI for the 2017 IPL Qualifier 1 against Mumbai Indians, at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday.

Stokes will join the England cricket team for a preparatory camp in Spain ahead of the ODI series against South Africa and the Champions Trophy. The England all-rounder excelled in all departments, scoring 316 runs and taking 12 wickets and was key to Rising Pune Supergiant’s surge up the table. His non-availability ahead of the crucial encounter will surely upset RPS’ rhythm as they do not have any one of Stokes’ calibre to take his place.

READ | IPL 2017, Qualifier 1: Mumbai Indians’ strengths and weaknesses

Dan Christian, who has played second fiddled to Stokes till now, will have to take on more responsibility when Rising Pune Supergiant take the field against MI. The Australian has done well with the ball but his ability with the bat is no way near to Stokes.

If RPS decide to include an international player in place of Stokes, they have just two options on the bench – quick bowler Lockie Ferguson or batsman Usman Khawaja. While Ferguson impressed with the ball in the last match he played, Khawaja hasn’t featured in this edition at all . If RPS decide to field an Indian player, they have to choose between Ankit Sharma, Rajat Bhatia and Ashok Dinda.

Dan Christian can be a viable option to replace Ben Stokes in the Rising Pune Supergiant squad. ( BCCI )

All the above mentioned names have hardly figured in the IPL this season, which has tied Rising Pune Supergiant’s hands as it weakens them in both departments.

Kevin Pietersen, who was part of RPS’ line-up last season, lambasted the England and Wales Cricket Board’s decision to recall Stokes. “I think it’s pathetic. An absolute shambles,” the former England batsman said on Sky Sports. “Stokes should be playing in the semifinal, and the final. The last week of the IPL is a huge occasion.”

Ajinkya Rahane, who has been struggling at the top of the order, feels there is no need to worry as they have players who can take Stokes’ place.

READ | Mumbai Indians, Rising Pune Supergiant set for IPL 2017 Qualifier showdown

“Yes, we will definitely miss Stokesy because he has done really well for us in both batting and bowling as well as in fielding. But we have a few experienced internationals who have done well in this format. We are not sure who we’ll play once Stokesy is gone. But all the Indian players are doing well,” Rahane had said after their comprehensive victory over Kings XI Punjab on Sunday which also sealed their playoff place.

From Rahul Tripathi to Jaydev Unadkat, Rising Pune Supergiant have always found a player who has come in and then never looked back in this edition of the IPL. They will hope that someone once again step up to the plate and propels them.

First Published: May 15, 2017 17:24 IST