IPL 2021: England and Rajasthan Royals all-rounder Ben Stokes has said that Mumbai Indians is always the team to beat in the Indian Premier League (IPL) as the Rohit Sharma-led side has a good blend of experience and youth in the squad.
The IPL 2021 will kick off on April 9 with Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) locking horns in the tournament opener. Rajasthan Royals will start their campaign on April 12 against Punjab Kings.
“Yes, always! They are one of the most prolific teams in this competition, along with Chennai, but personally, our record is very good against Mumbai. It’s great that we always have the wood over Mumbai but it would be great to have it over every other team as well,” Stokes told Sky Sports.
Last year, Rajasthan Royals had defeated Mumbai Indians in style at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi as Stokes played an unbeaten knock of 107 runs off just 60 balls to help Rajasthan chase down the total of 196 with eight wickets in hand and 10 balls to spare.
Stokes and Jos Buttler had linked up with the Rajasthan Royals squad on Monday as the three-match ODI series against India came to an end.
When asked about his batting slot in this year’s IPL, Stokes said: “I haven’t had too many discussions about where that is but I’d like to think that I’d play a similar role this year as I did last at the top of the order.”
Last year, Rajasthan Royals had finished at the bottom of the points table. For this year, the side has made few additions like Chris Morris and Liam Livingstone. Steve Smith was let go and Sanju Samson was named the skipper.
“Last year was obviously disappointing. Yes, we finished bottom of the table but I think it’s not as simple as that. There were a lot of teams still vying for a play-off place towards the back-end of that competition,” said Stokes.
Answering how IPL has helped English cricket, Stokes said: “Yes — the percentage of English players in the IPL has probably grown in the last five or so years. Not only is that great for the individual but it is also great for the players involved in the England set-up; it gives them experience in the most high-profile competition in the world but not only that — you are under constant pressure to perform.
“You’ve got billions of people watching you and you’ve got the pressure of the franchise on you. Being constantly exposed to that is a huge benefit to us as a team, especially with the T20 World Cup coming up at the end of the year in India; it’s a great chance for the English guys to get more experience in these conditions,” he added.