In another blow to the Rajasthan Royals (RR), all-rounder Liam Livingstone has flown back to England, citing bubble fatigue. The development comes as star all-rounder Ben Stokes and pacer Jofra Archer are already missing from the team due to injuries.
Liam Livingstone is an adept middle-order batsman and a handy spinner. His prowess was on show on his international debut last month, as he scored 63 runs in two ODI innings, looking completely at home against some of India's best white-ball bowlers.
Liam Livingstone didn't feature in the Rajasthan Royals' three games this season. He was expected to be slotted into the middle order after Stokes' injury. But RR decided to go with South African David Miller, who cemented his place in the XI with a match-winning half-century against the Delhi Capitals (DC).
Five potential replacements for Liam Livingstone at Rajasthan Royals
Although Liam Livingstone's exit won't drastically affect RR's current playing XI, it would allow them to rope in a solid overseas backup. On that note, let's take a look at five potential replacements for Liam Livingstone.
#1 Aaron Finch
Rajasthan Royals started their IPL 2021 campaign by opening the batting with Stokes and keeping Jos Buttler in the middle order. The latter has now taken up opening duties.
David Miller has started well in the middle order but has often shown a propensity of being inconsistent. If that happens this season, RR might have to reconsider demoting Buttler. In that scenario, having someone like Aaron Finch in the squad could solve this problem.
Finch is one of the cleanest strikers of the white ball and could provide the team with some much-needed aggression at the top order. The Australian captain went unsold in the auction after his unimpressive performances for RCB last season.
But he has regained his touch since then; he was the second-highest run-getter in the T20I series against New Zealand. Finch could also help young captain Sanju Samson, thanks to his leadership experience.
#2 Marnus Labuschagne
Another Australian, Marnus Labuschagne, could be a brilliant replacement for Liam Livingstone. The 26-year-old could not only provide a stable middle-order option but could also chip in with his 'golden-arm' leg-spin.
Labuschagne is coming off an impressive Big Bash League campaign. In six innings, he scored 176 runs at an average of 29.33 while also scalping ten wickets at an average of 14.6.
If the Rajasthan Royals decide to stick with Buttler at the top, Labuschange could provide the crucial backup for Miller in the middle order.
#3 Devon Conway
Devon Conway was one of the emerging stars of the recently-concluded Trans-Tasman series. His 99 not out in the first T20I drew him plaudits from all and sundry.
Overall, the left-hander has played 14 T20Is for New Zealand, scoring 473 runs at a stunning average of 59.12 and a strike rate of 151.12. A middle-order batsman, Conway is a fine player of both spin and pace. He also has the ability to anchor the innings and can tonk the ball at will.
By acquiring Devon Conway, Rajasthan Royals could have an underrated and perhaps a long-term asset in place of Liam Livingstone.
#4 Wanindu Hasaranga
Wanindu Hasaranga attracted the limelight in the inaugural Lanka Premier League. The leg-spinner took a chart-topping 17 wickets from ten games, averaging an impressive 11.29. He continued his fine performances against West Indies, picking up eight wickets in three games.
Hasanranga conceded runs at an economy rate of 3.5, and his strike rate and average of nine and 5.25, respectively, were outstanding, to say the least. Former Sri Lankan international Russel Arnold also expressed his surprise when the 23-year-old didn't attract any buyers in the IPL 2021 auction.
Liam Livingstone's absence could prove to be a blessing in disguise for the Rajasthan Royals. Their spinners Shreyas Gopal and Rahul Tewatia have leaked runs this season, with the former even dropped in the last game.
The Rajasthan Royals could bring in Hasaranga for Mustafizur Rehman in their bowling attack to have some variety and aggression while also adding depth to their lower-order batting.
#5 Adil Rashid
Adil Rashid was one of the most surprising unsold players in the IPL 2021 auction.
An experienced campaigner, Rashid averages 26.52 with the ball in 57 T20Is. The leg-spinner has time and again shown his ability to pick wickets in the middle overs and has upgraded his skills to flourish in the powerplay as well.
If the Rajasthan Royals rope in Adil Rashid for Liam Livingstone, they could revolve their bowling lineup around the spinner, as the Sunrisers Hyderabad have done with Rashid Khan.
Adil Rashid's dexterity and experience could be just what the Rajasthan Royals need at the moment as they look to build some momentum in their inconsistent campaign and reach the playoffs.