Steven Smith: Ben Stokes brings a nice balance

Ben Stokes England

Captain Steven Smith has welcomed the belated arrival of Ben Stokes to the Rajasthan Royals squad for the remainder of the 2020 Indian Premier League.

Stokes was a late addition to the Royals XI. He was with his ill father in New Zealand and then had to be in self-quarantine amid the coronavirus pandemic, after arriving in the United Arab Emirates.

He opened the batting alongside fellow England star Jos Buttler in Sunday’s victory over the Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. The hard-hitting left-hander fell for five – and bowled one wicketless over.

“With Stokes back, it brings a nice balance to us. He bowled only one over, but he just got out of lockdown. It helps our balance for sure,” said Smith.

The Rajasthan Royals also have England seamers Tom Curran and Jofra Archer. Rajasthan won the inaugural IPL in 2008. They remain in pursuit of a second title. Former Australian Test all-rounder Andrew McDonald is their head coach. Former leg-spinner Shane Warne is the franchise’s mentor and brand ambassador.

Ashes rivals, Royals team-mates

Stokes and Smith are team-mates at the Royals, but rivals in international cricket. Stokes and Smith were England and Australia’s leading run-scorers during the 2019 Ashes series in the United Kingdom. They shared five centuries and as many half-tons that series.

“I have seen Stokes go from strength to strength. He had an incredible World Cup and recently played in Test matches. He bowled beautifully and got some wickets as well,” said Smith.

“He is a player who wants to be involved whether he is batting, bowling or fielding. He wants to be in hotspots. You want these players in your team as they want to deliver in tough situations.”

History of IPL titles

The Mumbai Indians are the reigning IPL champions. Mumbai beat the Chennai Super Kings in the 2019 final. Mumbai have four titles and Chennai three. The Kolkata Knight Riders have won the IPL twice.

Hyderabad have won it once. The Kings XI Punjab, Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore have never won the IPL. The Deccan Chargers, who no longer exist, won the IPL once.