'Either play the full season or don't come': Irfan Pathan explodes as Jos Buttler-less RR slump to fourth straight defeat

Punjab Kings registered a five-wicket victory over Rajasthan Royals in their IPL clash in Guwahati on Wednesday, further denting the latter's chances of finishing among the top two in the group stage. Sam Curran emerged as the standout performer, demonstrating his all-round prowess with a well-paced fifty-two crucial wickets.

Jos Buttler of Rajasthan Royals during IPL 2024 (AFP)

Rajasthan Royals landed in Guwahati without one of their star players in Jos Buttler, who left for national duties before the T20 World Cup; Buttler is England's captain for the tournament. Naturally, such a large void remains difficult to fill and Tom Kohler-Cadmore, the replacement in the first place, clearly struggled in his outing against Kings of Punjab alongside Yashasvi Jaiswal.

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Kohler-Cadmore faced 23 balls for just 18 on a slow surface in Guwahati; However, he was not alone in his struggles. Except Riyan Parag (48), no other RR batter showed promise as the team was restricted to 144/9 in 20 overs. Despite a modest target of 145, Punjab Kings faced some challenges with the team being reduced to 48/4 by 8 overs. However, Sam Curran's compound innings of 63 not out, backed by Jitesh Sharma's valuable contribution of 22, took them to victory with ease.

While Punjab Kings will also suffer absences with captain Curran and Jonny Bairstow leaving before their final match of the group stage to join the England side, the damage is significantly less given PBKS are already knocked out of the series race playoffs. RR, on the other hand, have qualified for the playoffs and are fighting to maintain second place in the standings. To make matters worse, their final match in the group stage will be against high-flying Kolkata Knight Riders, who confirmed the top spot in the table after RR's defeat on Wednesday.

Former India all-rounder Irfan Pathan reacted to RR's defeat against Punjab Kings after the match, taking to X, formerly Twitter, to express his rather strong opinion on the departure of key players just before the end of the season.

“Either be available for the full season or don’t come!” Irfan wrote.

RR and PBKS are not the only teams suffering the loss of their star players. Royal Challengers Bengaluru, who made a remarkable comeback into the playoff race in the second half of the season, will also lose their star batter Will Jacks ahead of their final group stage match against Chennai Super Kings.

The playoff race

After PBKS' victory, second place remains up for grabs, with Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad in contention. The second-placed team will participate in the first playoffs, with the winner of the match gaining direct access to the tournament final.

Delhi Capitals and Lucknow Super Giants also have an outside chance of qualifying for the playoffs.

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