As the 14th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is set to return in the month of September, the franchises will have their task cut out. With the possibility of overseas stars from England, Australia and the West Indies likely to be unavailable for the tournament, all the teams will have to undergo some crucial changes to form a perfect team combination.
Out of all the sides, Rajasthan Royals are expected to be the most affected side due to the whole situation. Having already signed Rassie van der Dussen and Gerald Coetzee as replacements of Ben Stokes and Liam Livingstone, they might have to put their thinking hats on with the English duo of Jofra Archer and Jos Buttler also expected to pull out. Considering Archer was already out of the side and Buttler was a key part of RR in first half of the season, let us have a look at the possible replacements for the opening batsman for remainder of the season.
1. Alex Hales
The 32-year-old might prove to be the perfect replacement for Buttler at top of the order for Rajasthan Royals. Alex Hales has been one of the most destructive players in the T20 format in recent times and considering the fact that he is not on England's selector's radar, he might be fully available for IPL 2021 in Sept-Oct. The right-handed batsman amassed 543 runs in 15 innings in BBL 10 at a scintillating strike rate of 161.61. The experience of playing in the tournament before (for Sunrisers Hyderabad) might also help his case. With a sense of maturity in his batting coupled with his hard-hitting abilities, Hales might prove to be the season-turning move for the franchise.
2. Martin Guptill
The Kiwi opener is regarded as one of the best short-format players in the world right now. Having scored 2939 runs in 102 T20Is for New Zealand at a dazzling strike rate of 136.8, the impressive numbers of Martin Guptill is just a reflection of the incredible abilities of the opener. The stylish right-handed batsman will also be playing for Karachi Kings in PSL 6 in UAE which would acclimatize him to the conditions there, making him perfectly ready for the Indian Premier League. Considering the void which will be left in the absence of Buttler, an experienced campaigner like Guptill could prove to be the perfect man to fill that gap.
3. Devon Conway
While Hales and Guptill could prove to be the perfect like-to-like replacements in terms of their abilities and experience, Rajasthan Royals can also opt for someone like Devon Conway if they need some raw talent and flamboyance in their side. The 29-year-old has been the talk of the cricket world in the last 1 year after his consistent performances for New Zealand since making his debut. The left-handed batsman has registered 473 runs in only 11 T20I innings at an average of 59.1 and strike-rate of 151.1. There is hardly any cricketer who has such breathtaking numbers in international cricket right now and Conway might just lit IPL 2021 if Royals decide to sign him as a replacement for Buttler.