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Ben Stokes is out of the Indian Premier League with a broken left index finger.
The England allrounder sustained the injury during Rajasthan Royals’ opening match with Punjab Kings on Monday when taking a catch to dismiss Chris Gayle.
Stokes ran in from long on and dived forward to complete the dismissal of the West Indian batsman. He immediately felt discomfort in his left hand, grimacing as he got up to celebrate with his teammates.
He continued on in the match, though did not add to the one over he bowled before the incident. Opening the batting, he scored a three-ball duck as the Royals fell five runs short of their target of 222.
The 29-year-old had an X-ray on Tuesday and will have another in the next two days to determine the scale of the damage before the ECB take over the planning of the recovery. Stokes is to remain out in India for a week, though the results of the second X-ray may change that.
A statement released by the franchise on Tuesday evening read: “Rajasthan Royals all-rounder Ben Stokes injured a finger on his left hand while fielding during the team's match against Punjab Kings on 12 April 2021 in Mumbai. Subsequent investigations revealed that he sustained a broken finger, which will, unfortunately, rule him out of the remainder of the Indian Premier League 2021 season.
“Everyone at Rajasthan Royals absolutely admires Ben for being such a huge asset and a valuable member of the Royals family, both on and off the field, and wishes him a speedy recovery. We are delighted that Ben would like to stay with the group to provide his valued support and inputs off the field. In the meantime, we will be reviewing potential replacement options for the remainder of the season”
The ECB confirmed their medical team are already involved in the rehabilitation process. That includes their hand specialist consultant Doug Campbell who previously helped Stokes recover from a fractured wrist in 2014 after the allrounder struck a locker out of frustration following a first-ball dismissal against West Indies in Barbados.
Depending on the severity of the injury, the toll on England may be manageable. The ECB had ceded ground to the IPL by allowing players involved in the competition’s knock-out stages to miss the Test series against New Zealand at the start of the summer.
As such, they were planning to go into the two-match series, which starts at Lord’s on 2 June, without the likes of centrally contracted Test players such as Stokes, Buttler, Jofra Archer (all at the Royals), Sam Curran (Chennai Super Kings) and Chris Woakes (Delhi Capitals), along with Jonny Bairstow (Sunrisers Hyderabad) who featured in the five-day team this winter.
But the ECB will be sweating on the fitness of their premier allrounder ahead of a huge nine months ahead. Following the New Zealand series are five Tests against India, followed by the T20 World Cup in India and the Ashes. Stokes, not least as Test vice-captain, will be a key player in England’s hopes to exact revenge on India after last month’s 4-1 loss, hold the 50-over and 20-over ICC trophies at the same time and win a series in Australia for the first time since 2010/11.
Meanwhile, there was better news for Archer, who has been cleared to resume training after undergoing surgery to remove a fragment of glass from his right middle finger. The procedure was also carried out by Campbell.
The fast bowler suffered the injury while cleaning a fish tank at his home in January. He missed the start of the IPL as a result though the Royals hope he could play some part in the latter stages of the tournament. At present, the ECB say no decision has been made yet on when Archer could return to competitive action.