All-rounder Ben Stokes' absence will be a major setback for Rajasthan Royals but the franchise should take it in a positive way and go with Jos Buttler at the top, feels former India cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar.
Stokes' IPL 2021 campaign came to an end after he injured a finger on his left hand during the Royals' opening game against Punjab Kings. Stokes was injured while taking a diving catch to dismiss West Indies dasher Chris Gayle.
"Stokes will be a major setback for Royals. However, taking it in a positive way, they should open with Jos Buttler at the Wankhede Stadium. If Buttler opens at Wankhede and continues to do so in the long run, Royals' performance will certainly get better," said Manjrekar in an exclusive chat with India TV.
Manjrekar also backed 'unpolished' Liam Livingstone to play a vital role in the Royals' campaign this year, saying that the England international will be a good overseas pick for Samson and Co.
"Manan Vohra could get another chance and RR could also go with Yashasvi Jaiswal if they want a left-right combination. However, Royals should look to invest in Liam Livingstone as their overseas pick.
"Having played in the recent series against India, he's proved his worth in sub-continent conditions. Livingstone is like an unpolished diamond in the Royals camp. They can keep out Mustafizur Rahman and include Kartik Tyagi or Jaydev Unadkat to accommodate Livingstone in the Playing XI," said Manjrekar.
The Jaipur franchise put up a stiff fight in their first match against Punjab Kings with skipper Samson's ton taking them to within four runs of Punjab's 221-run total.
Jofra Archer's chances of recovering from his shoulder injury and joining Royals in the league phase this season is highly unlikely and Stokes' injury has made things worse for the Rajasthan-based outfit. Royals may field either Livingstone or David Miller in place of Stokes in the match against Delhi Capitals.