Rajasthan Royals remain hopeful that Jofra Archer can play in the Indian Premier League despite the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) revealing he would miss the tournament.

The ECB on Friday stated that paceman Archer has been ruled out of England's Test tour of Sri Lanka and the IPL due to a low-grade stress fracture of his right elbow.

Archer is due to commence a rehabilitation programme with the ECB medical team with a view to facing West Indies in a three-match Test series in June.

Yet the Royals, who signed the quick for 7.2 crore (£800,000) in the 2018 IPL auction, have not given up hope of Archer playing in a tournament that gets under way at the end of March and finishes on May 24.

Rajasthan head coach Andrew McDonald told ESPNcricinfo: "It is a blow but these things always confront teams. These are the setbacks that you have to contend with.

"First and foremost, our thoughts are with Jofra. Getting an elbow injury when you are at the top of your game is far from ideal, but watching him from afar it's been great to see what he's been able to achieve.

"We'll see what happens. The ECB have been reasonably solid on ruling him out of the IPL, but we still hold out some hope that he may recover.

"We'll get those details over the next 24-48 hours as to the extent of the injury, and we'll work with the ECB as to what that may or may not look like.

"I'm sure he's keen [to play in the IPL]. He loves playing for Rajasthan, but injuries happen, and until more details come to light, we will always hold out hope for a player of that quality.

"It doesn't look good at the moment, but we won't be in any rush to replace him at this moment in time."

Kolkata Knight Riders splashed out a record INR 15.5 crore for Australia star Pat Cummins in the IPL auction on Thursday.

Cummins had been the subject of bids from both Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Capitals before Knight Riders gazumped their rivals.

The deal, worth roughly $2.2million, makes Cummins the most expensive overseas buy in IPL history.

The top-ranked Test bowler previously played in Kolkata in 2014 and 2015, along with Delhi Capitals in 2017. He missed the 2018 tournament with Mumbai Indians through injury.

Cummins has 17 wickets, at a rate of 29.35, in his 16 career IPL matches to date.

He is joined at Knight Riders by England limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan, whose reward for 2019 Cricket World Cup success is a much-improved deal.

Morgan, who is set to lead England again at the 2020 T20 World Cup, fetched INR 5.25 crore - more than double his wage for Kings XI Punjab in his most recent appearance in 2017.

Meanwhile, Cummins was not the only quick to welcome a big contract on Thursday, as debutant Sheldon Cottrell went to Kings XI for INR 8.5 crore.

And Indians signed Nathan Coulter-Nile for INR 8 crore.

Rajasthan Royals brought Jaydev Unadkat back for a third straight year, this time for a more modest INR 3 crore having spent top fees on the 28-year-old at the past two tournaments.

Glenn Maxwell went to Kings XI for INR 10.75 crore, while Royal Challengers sent INR 10 crore to Chris Morris.

Ajinkya Rahane has been traded to Delhi Capitals while Kolkata Knight Riders have released Robin Uthappa and Chris Lynn ahead of the next Indian Premier League auction.

Batsman Rahane is Rajasthan Royals' most-capped player and scored 393 runs at an average of 32.75 in the 2019 campaign, including 105 not out against his new team.

As part of the deal, the Capitals have agreed to send leg-spinners Mayank Markande - who had only joined Delhi from Mumbai Indians in July - and Rahul Tewatia in the opposite direction.

Rahane is the second high-profile India international to arrive at Delhi during the off-season, with the franchise having previously completed a trade to bring in spinner Ravichandran Ashwin from Kings XI Punjab.

Uthappa and Lynn, meanwhile, will be in the auction pool after the two batsmen were among a list of 11 names to be released by the Knight Riders, along with England international Joe Denly and West Indies all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite.

Royal Challengers Bangalore, meanwhile, announced the departure of 12 players, with the cuts leaving Moeen Ali and AB de Villiers as the only overseas players on their roster.

Less than a year after he was purchased for 720Lakhs (£800,000), England all-rounder Sam Curran has been released by Kings XI, while international team-mates Sam Billings and David Willey were not retained by Chennai Super Kings.

The auction for the 2020 season takes place on December 19.

Rajasthan Royals boosted their hopes of making the Indian Premier League play-offs with a comfortable seven-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad on Saturday.

The Royals wrapped up victory with just five balls remaining, though they had been cruising for long periods in their run chase after Jaydev Unadkat (2-26) had sparkled with the ball and also in the field.

Rajasthan's target was an achievable 161, despite Manish Pandey's 61, and contributions from the top four in the batting order helped see them home in the final over.

Ajinkya Rahane made 39, Liam Livingstone 44 and Sanju Samson hit an unbeaten 48 as the Royals made sure they remain right in the mix for a top-four finish.

 

SMITH CHECKS WARNER'S MOMENTUM

Sunrisers started steadily enough despite losing captain Kane Williamson early for 13, with David Warner and Pandey combining well at the crease.

Warner looked to be cruising towards a record-breaking sixth consecutive half-century in this season's competition until Australia team-mate Steve Smith intervened.

The pair have regularly shared headlines since last year's ball-tampering scandal and, on opposing sides here, Smith denied Warner a piece of history. He executed a sublime, diving right-handed catch to dismiss his compatriot for 37.

WICKETS FALL DESPITE SLOPPINESS

Rather than take the lead of captain Smith, the Royals' fielding was a real mix as they were given multiple opportunities to take control after Pandey was stumped.

Catches were carelessly put down but Unadkat impressed. As well as a pair of wickets – including getting Deepak Hooda caught and bowled for a golden duck – he clung on to catches from Vijay Shankar (8) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1).

Despite the wasted chances, Rajasthan slowed Sunrisers slightly from 103-1 to 160-8. It was an all-round good bowling performance for the Royals as newby, Oshane Thomas bagged 2-28, Jaydev Unadkat had 2-26, Shreyas Gopal had 2-30, and Varun Aaron, 2-36.

RAJASTHAN GO STEADY ALL THE WAY

An 18-run return from Hyderabad's final over gave the Royals a slightly tougher target, but they never looked in real danger of falling short.

It took Sunrisers until the 10th over to take the first wicket of Livingstone, with Samson arriving in the middle and quickly impressing.

Smith's dismissal later in the innings brought Ashton Turner to the middle, looking to avoid a fourth consecutive IPL duck - a potential record - but he was quickly smiling after getting off the mark with a single.

Requiring nine from the final two overs, the Royals' patient approach was rewarded when Samson pulled a short ball to the boundary to complete the job.

Teenager Riyan Parag and the departing Jofra Archer lifted Rajasthan Royals to a three-wicket triumph in the Indian Premier League as Kolkata Knight Riders' misery continued.

The Knight Riders have not won since their last meeting with the Royals - a run now stretching to six matches - but captain Dinesh Karthik looked to have them on their way to victory on Thursday.

He made an unbeaten 97 to help set a target of 176, with the majority of those runs coming in the final few overs of Kolkata's innings after a slow start saw Varun Aaron (2-20) impress with the ball.

But the Knight Riders did not account for a crucial late partnership of 44 between Parag and Archer, who was playing his final match before leaving to link up with England for the first time.

Parag, just 17, hit 47, before Archer (27 not out off 12) took Kolkata to 177-7 with four balls to spare in a stunning finish.

 

AARON EVERYWHERE FOR ROYALS

The Royals bowled superbly early on to initially keep the scoring down, with Aaron setting the tone as he took two wickets for just 10 runs through his three overs in the powerplay.

In the field, Aaron caught at point from Nitish Rana (21) to check the Knight Riders' momentum again.

Some sloppy fielding and well-placed drives followed as Sunil Narine (11) threatened to partner the big-hitting Karthik, but Aaron soon intervened again, launching in a throw to see the West Indies man - deemed not fit enough for their Cricket World Cup squad - run out chasing a second.

KOLKATA'S KARTHIK KEEPS GOING

Aaron could do nothing to slow Karthik, though, and the Kolkata batsman inspired his side almost singlehandedly to a very solid total.

The Knight Riders were 100-4 through 15 overs but incredibly ended on 175-6, with Karthik contributing 55 of those 75 runs in a remarkable finish. Four of his incredible nine maximums came in the final two overs.

It was a much-needed contribution as Ajinkya Rahane (34), who agreed to join County Championship side Hampshire on Thursday, and Sanju Samson (22) combined for an early partnership of 53 from 32 deliveries in reply.

LATE PAIRING DOES THE JOB

The Royals had dropped Ashton Tucker off the back of three straight ducks, but they still struggled to fire after Rahane and Samson departed, with Narine snaring skipper Steve Smith for just two for his second wicket of the innings.

Piyush Chawla (3-20) also contributed handily for Kolkata with a trio of wickets and Rajasthan were left looking for someone to replicate Karthik's earlier efforts.

They had two men step up to the plate, though, in Parag and Archer.

The 17-year-old looked as though he would do it on his own when he rifled a big six in the penultimate over, only to then knock off his own stumps from the next ball, meaning it was left to Archer to bow out in style.

Rajasthan Royals threatened to waste a Jos Buttler batting masterclass before limping to a four-wicket win over Mumbai Indians on Saturday.

Quinton de Kock made 81 and Rohit Sharma 47 as Mumbai posted 187-5 at the Wankhede Stadium, a score that looked competitive until Buttler fired in Rajasthan's reply, smashing 89 from just 43 deliveries.

The England international allowed opening partner Ajinkya Rahane to do the early damage but the departure of his captain, caught for 37 when sweeping Krunal Pandya out to deep square leg, led to Buttler changing gears.

Alzarri Joseph suffered at the hands of the right-hander, conceding 28 runs in one over as the Royals' equation suddenly dropped to a run-a-ball rate.

Yet they made hard work of completing the job, losing four wickets in a hurry to give Mumbai hope before Shreyas Gopal got his side home with three balls to spare with a boundary off Hardik Pandya.

The Royals - who were without the injured Ben Stokes - eventually picked up just their second victory of the campaign, with Mumbai missing out on the chance to leapfrog over Kolkata Knight Riders into second place in the table.

 

A WEEK IS A LONG TIME IN THE IPL...

On April 6, Joseph claimed 6-12 on his Mumbai debut, the best bowling figures in the history of the Indian Premier League.

A week on from his record-breaking start in the competition, the West Indies paceman had a vastly different Twenty20 experience. His three overs in the game went for 53 runs, with Buttler ruining his figures.

The right-hander book-ended a pair of maximums with a quartet of fours in Joseph's last over, the bowler unable to find a way to stem the flow of boundaries despite changes in both his pace and length.

Buttler's quest to hit a seventh successive boundary resulted in his downfall, however, as he only picked out long on when trying to deposit Rahul Chahar over the rope.

 

FAST START, POWERFUL FINISH FOR MUMBAI

Rohit and De Kock shared an opening stand worth 96 for the home team, with the former back leading the team again after missing the victory over Kings XI Punjab due to injury.

South African De Kock hit four maximums before falling to Jofra Archer, who finished with figures of 3-39.

However, his departure set the scene for a late cameo from Hardik Pandya, the India all-rounder belting three sixes as he contributed an unbeaten 28 from just 11 deliveries.

His onslaught gave Mumbai a much-needed lift in the closing overs, though Buttler's belligerent hitting meant it was the Royals who came out on top in the end.

Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine's fearless batting ensured Kolkata Knight Riders made light work of Rajasthan Royals in a dominant eight-wicket Indian Premier League win.

Steve Smith made 73 off 59 but the Royals' pedestrian 139-3 on a slow track at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium proved well below par.

Lynn (50) and Narine's (47) partnership had yet to truly burst into life this season, but an opening stand of 91 laid the foundations for a victory that was sealed with 37 balls remaining.

It is a win that sends the high-flying Knight Riders back to the top of the table after five matches, while the Royals are second-bottom with just one win to their name.


IN-FORM RUSSELL LEFT RESTLESS

Andre Russell has been the star of the IPL this season, smashing 207 runs from four innings at an astonishing strike-rate of 268.83.

But such was the ease of the Knight Riders' win, the West Indies international was not needed in Jaipur.

There was a display of 'Lynnsanity' as the Australia batsman smoked 50 off 32, nailing six fours and three sixes – including a mammoth effort over midwicket that struck the windscreen of a sponsor car.

Narine matched Lynn for fours and sixes, with his knock coming off just 25 balls.


SMITH SHOW IN VAIN, GURNEY IMPRESSES ON DEBUT

Initially, the pitch in Jaipur appeared favourable to the batsmen, but the fact the big-hitting Jos Buttler scored a sedate 37 off 34 suggested otherwise.

A sandstorm in the area before the match was more volatile than the Royals' batting, although Smith's 73 off 59 – including seven fours and a six – will be pleasing to Australia fans ahead of the Cricket World Cup.

Debutant Harry Gurney impressed for Kolkata with the ball, the seamer finishing with figures of 2-25 including tempting Buttler with a slower one that Shubman Gill took impressively on the deep-midwicket boundary.

Shreyas Gopal bamboozled struggling Royal Challengers Bangalore and Jos Buttler blasted a half-century as Rajasthan Royals got up and running in the Indian Premier League with a seven-wicket win.

There was more misery for Virat Kohli in his 100th game as RCB captain at Sawai Mansingh Stadium, where his side could only post 158-4 after Gopal took 3-12 from his four overs on Tuesday.

Gopal doubled his wicket tally for the tournament with a brilliant leg-spinning exhibition, dismissing Kohli, AB de Villiers and Shimron Hetmyer.

Parthiv Patel top scored with 67 from 41 balls for Bangalore, who were thrashed by Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday, but his first half-century of the 2019 IPL was not enough to prevent his side from being the only team without a victory.

The Royals, missing Sanju Samson due to a niggle, sealed their first two points after Buttler smashed 59 from 43 balls.

Yuzvendra Chahal (2-17) gave RCB hope, but Steve Smith made 38 and Rahul Tripathi capitalised on being dropped early in his innings to score an unbeaten 34, hitting a six to win it off the penultimate ball.

GOPAL PUTS RCB IN A SPIN

Kohli moved up to open for the second time in the tournament, but the skipper missed out in his landmark match as skipper.

Parthiv and Kohli put on 49 before Gopal claimed the huge wicket of the mercurial India captain, who was flummoxed by a ripper of a googly and bowled through the gate for 23.

De Villiers was caught and bowled in the tweaker's next over and he had a third wicket when Hetmyer was caught behind, reducing RCB to 73-3 midway through their innings.

It was left for Parthiv - who struck a six and nine fours - to lay the platform for a late flurry from debutant Marcus Stoinis (31 not out from 28) and Moeen Ali (18no off 9)

 

BUTTLER SERVES UP ANOTHER TREAT

Buttler failed twice after he was the victim of a Ravichandran Ashwin 'Mankad' but he was back in the groove at the top of the order.

The explosive wicketkeeper-batsman struck Navdeep Saini for back-to-back boundaries after Ajinkya Rahane was dropped by Kohli in the second over and did the same to Stoinis in his first over for his new franchise.

Buttler continued to rocket along, reaching his half-century from 38 balls with a glorious straight drive off England team-mate Moeen, who he also pulled for six before he struck the crafty Chahal - who also removed Rahane - to Stoinis at long-off.

 

RAHUL ENSURES RCB TRIP UP AGAIN

Smith was not at his fluent best, but used his experience to rotate the strike and score at over a run a ball.

Chahal should have had a third wicket when Umesh Yadav dropped Tripathi in the deep on nine before Smith hammered Mohammed Siraj for six. 

Smith fell off the final ball of the 19th over from Siraj, but with only five needed from the last over, Tripathi hooked Yadav over the ropes to win it in emphatic fashion.

MS Dhoni and Dwayne Bravo provided end-of-innings heroics as reigning champions Chennai Super Kings maintained their 100 per cent record in the 2019 Indian Premier League with an eight-run triumph over winless Rajasthan Royals.

Dhoni was chiefly responsible for lifting the Super Kings from 27-3 to 175-5, the former India skipper - who was dropped by Krishnappa Gowtham on 28 - accelerating superbly to 75 not out from 46 balls as Chennai blasted 60 from the final three overs of their innings, with Bravo contributing 27 from 16.

The Royals recovered from a poor start of their own in reply and needed 12 from the final over with Ben Stokes (46 off 26) and Jofra Archer (24 not out off 11) at the crease and scoring freely.

However, Bravo dismissed Stokes with the first ball of the last set of six and gave up only three runs with his remaining deliveries to secure another CSK triumph.

Rajasthan's defeat was particularly harsh on Archer, who returned 2-17 in a superb bowling performance before helping to keep the game alive with the bat.

Archer even kept things tight at the end of Chennai's innings with Dhoni in full flow, giving up just eight runs in the 19th over. Unfortunately for the Royals, the 18th and 20th overs - bowled by Dhawal Kulkarni and Jaydev Unadkat - went for 24 and 28 respectively, Dhoni hitting the last three legal deliveries for six.

Unadkat finished with horrendous figures of 1-54 from four overs, having also bowled two wides at the death.

 

RAHANE CONVINCED A WIN NOT FAR AWAY

The Royals' search for a first triumph in 2019 goes on after a third narrow defeat from as many matches.

Skipper Ajinkya Rahane, who fell for a second-ball duck at the start of the chase, said: "I think what cost us was the last five overs [of the Super Kings' innings]. We all know when MS bats in that situation, it's very hard for any bowler.

"Winning the small, small moments, that's what matters. I think we are playing some good cricket, some luck with us and I think we can change that tide."

 

AGELESS TAHIR STILL PUTTING BATSMEN IN A SPIN

Imran Tahir turned 40 earlier this week, but the South Africa spinner remains one of the best bowlers in T20 cricket.

Tahir returned 2-23 from four overs and claimed the important scalps of Rahul Tripathi (39) and Steve Smith (28) to join Bravo and Yuzvendra Chahal at the top of the tournament's wicket-taking charts.

 

Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni will go head-to-head in the opening game of the 2019 Indian Premier League as defending champions Chennai Super Kings face Royal Challengers Bangalore.

An eight-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad brought a third title for Chennai last year and they have assembled a star-studded squad in an attempt to retain their crown.

The IPL will act as a Cricket World Cup warm-up for some of the leading stars over the coming seven weeks, while there are returns for some controversial figures.

Ahead of match one, we run through everything you need to know about IPL 12.

 

When does it start?

Saturday sees the tournament kick-off in Chennai as the Super Kings host RCB, with the home side looking to win a seventh successive game against their opening-day rivals.

When is the final?

As well as hosting game one, Chennai will also provide the stage for the final on May 12, but there are 59 games to play before the showpiece contest.

Which teams are competing?

The line-up shows the same eight franchises that competed 12 months ago, although the Delhi Daredevils have renamed themselves as the Delhi Capitals for 2019.

What happened at the auction?

Two players topped the auction list in December – Indian seamer Jaydev Unadkat and compatriot legspinner Varun Chakravarthy.

Unadkat will turn out for the Rajasthan Royals this year – his fifth IPL team – after they paid an eye-watering 8.4 crores for his services, a figure matched as Kings XI Punjab secured Chakravarthy.

England all-rounder Sam Curran was the most expensive overseas player after he signed for Kings XI for 7.2 crores, while household names like Cheteshwar Pujara, Brendon McCullum and Alex Hales went unsold.

Who are the star players?

Chennai have the likes of Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Faf du Plessis and Shane Watson to choose from, while RCB will be led by India skipper Kohli.

The new-look Capitals have teenage sensation Prithvi Shaw in their squad, while Shikhar Dhawan has joined from Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard and Jasprit Bumrah make up a strong Mumbai Indians line-up, while IPL legend Chris Gayle joins Curran at Kings XI.

Kolkata Knight Riders have big-hitter Chris Lynn within their ranks, while fellow Australians Steve Smith and David Warner return following their 12-month suspensions.

The duo will be eligible to compete for the Royals and Hyderabad respectively from March 29, when their bans are lifted.

England hopeful Jofra Archer joins Smith at the Royals, with Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler for company. Meanwhile, Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan is one of Warner's team-mates.

Five West Indians have been retained to their various teams for the Indian Premier League’s 2019 season. 

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