Shane Bond, the assistant coach and fast bowling mentor of the Rajasthan Royals, concurred that the loss of Jos Buttler to international commitments is a huge yet unavoidable blow right ahead of the all-important Playoffs.

Addressing the media at RR’s ‘adopted’ home in Guwahati after the side suffered its fourth consecutive drubbing at the hands of Punjab Kings, Bond said, “Jos was a real leader on the field, so with him going, it makes a little bit of a difference. So, we’ve got to make a couple of subtle adjustments with that. But the new players bring fresh energy as well. Like it’s quite exciting when guys are making their debuts and you’re looking for them to have that first performance, which is really good. I’m hoping we’ll see that in the knockout games.”

Englishman Tom Kohler-Cadmore, who walked in to bat as Buttler’s direct replacement on Wednesday, had an unimpressive IPL debut. His 23-ball 18 affected RR’s momentum in the early stages of play.

Bond defended his ward’s performance, saying, “It’s never easy walking in so late in the competition. Tom’s been around the team for a couple of years and he’s a very talented player.”

The 48-year-old feels his batters need to up the ante. “We just didn’t get enough runs in the first innings. If we’d put a score around 170-180, it would have been perhaps a different result… We’ve got an extremely competitive bowling attack, there’s no doubt about that. We probably just haven’t churned out the runs that we wanted in the last couple of games.”

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Although initially it was predicted to be a high-scoring track, Barsapara turned out to be a slow surface. “It was a slow wicket. I think the Kings bowled really well on it. Sort of gave us an indication; they bowled really straight. They controlled the innings really. So, that was our goal when we went out to bowl. It was to do the exact same thing: bowl wicket-to-wicket, try to make things as hard as we possibly could, and create some pressure.”

Bond’s parting thoughts were on the hot topic of the Impact Player rule. Unlike traditionalists, the former New Zealand speedster claims to be a fan. “I like seeing sixes. I like seeing runs. I like seeing bowlers being put under pressure. And the beauty of the game is you have to adjust and adapt. Even from last year, the batters have done that. The scores have gone up. Even in the last 5-10 years, batting’s just gone up. The shot-making is amazing.

“Bowlers haven’t caught up and they have to plan better. They’ve got to think better. They got to make better decisions. When you look at the Bumrahs of the world, they are still doing it regardless. That’s what world-class players do. And the challenge for all the bowlers in the competition is to just get better. I think the general quality of bowling has probably been a little bit below par in the tournament, but you would be hoping that at the back end and even through to next year that would improve.”