It’s been an eventful week for our Rajasthan Royals’ players across the world as they’ve been preparing for the upcoming domestic season in India, as well as starring and being involved with tournaments around the world: from the Caribbean to England!
Steve Smith: 92 against England
After some stunning displays of Test match batting in the 1st & 2nd innings of the first Ashes Test, all the talk was around Steve Smith going into the 2nd Test at the home of cricket, Lords. The question on everyone’s minds was how to get Smith out, something the English bowlers had no answer to in the first Test.
With the headlines surrounding Smith facing his Rajasthan Royals’ teammate and the newest English sensation, Jofra Archer, the match was set for an epic battle, and it didn’t disappoint. A resilient and gritty innings by Smudge got him to 80 as he anchored the Australian innings before he was hit by Royals teammate, Archer on the neck and arm with his fiery pace. Smith went off retired-hurt but returned for Australia as he continued hitting to score 92. He finally succumbed to his earlier hit as he got out and it was later revealed that he had been diagnosed with a mild concussion.
The Smith show continued in the 2nd Ashes test but was cut short due to the concussion as he became the first ever player to be substituted, given his injury and the new ICC regulations on concussions. He will miss the next match due to the concussion, which will be a huge miss for Australia as they prepare for Thursday’s crucial 3rd Test.
Ben Stokes: 115 against Australia
Having seen England take a slender lead of 8 runs in the 1st innings, they were rocked early by some consistent bowling by the Australians. And then, it seemed like history repeated itself. England were in trouble at Lords, just like a month before in the World Cup Final. And just like in the final, it was Ben Stokes and his Royals teammate, Jos Buttler that stood tall and got England out of the trouble and close to victory.
Stokes came in to bat at Lords, having seen his team struggling at 64-3. Two overs later, he was joined by Buttler as they put on a 90-run partnership to get their team out of trouble and extend their lead to a position where England couldn’t lose the test match. Ben Stokes went on to attack the Australian bowlers as he scored a brilliant century to put England in a commanding position on Day 5 at Lords. His unbeaten 115 included 11 fours and 3 sixes as the English vice-captain reached the milestone for a 7th time in his test career and allowed the England bowlers to attack the Australian batting with runs in the bank to set up an exciting end for the match.
Ben Stokes is making it a habit of being part of match-changing innings at Lords as he looks to build on this performance in the upcoming 3 Ashes Tests!
Jofra Archer: A debut to remember and 5 wickets against England
Fewer Test debuts have been more memorable than Archer's. He came in with a massive reputation and heavy expectations. Jofra wasn't one to disappoint those who trusted him. In the first innings, Archer bowler with venom and his bouncers were too hot to handle, even for Rajasthan Royals' skipper, Steve Smith, who copped a blow to his neck and had to retire hurt for a brief period.
Archer bowled the fastest over in England's Test history, with an average speed of 149.3 kph. Ambling in his run-up, and bowling with what seems like moderate effort, Archer deceived many batsmen in the second innings as well. He got rid of the dangerous Warner and got Khawaja to nick one too. He then surprised Test cricket's first concussion substitute, Marcus Labuschagne with a vicious bouncer that hit him flush on the grill of his helmet. Archer had clearly announced himself in Test cricket with a lot of fire and claiming 5 of the 16 Australian wickets in the Test match.
Ajiknya Rahane: 54 against West Indies A
Rajasthan Royals’ mainstay and Indian vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane has been busy preparing for the World Test Championship after the IPL ended. After a successful county stint with Hampshire over the summer, Rahane is back in India whites in the West Indies.
In the warm up match against West Indies A, Rahane captained India as Kohli sat out. In the 2nd innings, Rahane was promoted up the order to open the innings to play against the new ball and he didn’t disappoint. He smashed a patient and sublime 54 in the 2nd innings in a classic Rahane innings. He and India play their first Test match in the World Test Championships on Thursday against the Windies at North Sound.
Liam Livingstone: Dominating with Bat & Ball in the Vitality T20 Blast
Liam Livingstone has been on a roll for Lancashire in this year’s Vitality T20 Blast. While Liam is known for his big hitting and innovative batting, he’s been adding wickets to his forte with his effective leg breaks, bowling a regular quota of 4 overs in every match for Lancashire.
He’s been in some form with his leg breaks as he’s claimed 7 victims across 3 matches. In the matches against Nottinghamshire, Birmingham & Northamptonshire, he got figures of 2-22, 3-38 & 2-24 respectively. Along with these great bowling performances, Liam didn’t let us forget about his batting prowess as he hits 3 sixes against Northamptonshire including 2 sixes of scoops to score a quick fire 22 from 10 balls to lead Lancashire’s chase from the get go.
Liam’s form for Lancashire is one of the main reasons for their rise to the top of the North Group in the Vitality T20 Blast, and Royals fans should be excited by his consistent all-round ability and display over the past few weeks.
We can’t wait for another exciting week ahead with the 3rd Ashes Test, Rahane in action for India against the West Indies & the start of the Indian domestic season!