The Rajasthan Royals have tinkered with their opening combination all through this season. They have tried five different opening combinations, which is the most by any team so far in this IPL. While none of their openers have done exceptionally well, Jos Buttler should have been an obvious choice for one of the opening slots given his excellent record in T20s as an opener.
However, they have chosen to go with Ben Stokes as Robin Uthappa's partner at the top in their last three innings. While Uthappa has shown promise batting at his preferred position - he hit a 22-ball 41 against the Royal Challengers Bangalore - Stokes has struggled to make use of the powerplay overs. Stokes' four innings as opener this season before today had produced 80 runs at a strike rate of 112.67.
Stokes' struggle today was exacerbated by the Sunrisers Hyderabad's tactic of using Rashid Khan against him. Stokes managed to score just seven runs off the six deliveries that Rashid bowled to him, before getting dismissed by the same bowler. Rashid had also created a chance off a previous delivery he had bowled to Stokes, which Vijay Shankar had dropped at midwicket. Stokes was on 17 off 19 deliveries when he was dropped.
ESPNcricinfo's Luck Index reckons that the drop actually cost the Royals eight runs in the end, given how Stokes was struggling to force the pace. With batsmen like Rahul Tewatia and Jofra Archer - who has shown he can get some quick runs - still to bat, Luck Index reckons that the Royals would've managed to score 21 from the 12 balls (remember, Stokes was on 17 off 19 when he was dropped) that Stokes faced after he was dropped before being dismissed for 30 off 32. This is calculated by distributing the 12 balls that Stokes faced among the batsmen who remained unbeaten and, if necessary, those who didn't bat in the innings. (This calculation takes into account the expected balls that each batsman is likely to play, based on their quality.)
While quantifying the value of the drop, Luck Index also brings out the fact that the Royals perhaps are erring with their strategy of opening with Stokes.
ESPNcricinfo stats team