Jos Buttler carried on his golden run with the willow by plundering his third century of the Indian Premier League’s 15th edition to set up Rajasthan Royals’ convincing win versus Delhi Capitals and elevate the Jaipur-based franchise to the top of the points table.
Riding on Buttler’s second consecutive hundred and his record opening partnership of 155 – Royals’ highest stand ever in the IPL history – with Devdutt Padikkal, Rajasthan Royals amassed a gargantuan total of 222 for two, the highest of the season, at the Wankhede Stadium.
To chase down a mammoth target, at least one Capitals batter had to repeat Buttler’s heroics. Prithvi Shaw gave it a blistering start, Rishabh Pant played a cameo in the middle, and Lalit Yadav and Rovman Powell displayed their finishing skills.
Still, the well-oiled Royals bowling attack struck consistently to restrict Capitals to 207 for eight. The only time Royals appeared to be a tad worried was when Powell struck two sixes off Trent Boult in the 18th over to give Capitals a remote shot at a win.
With 36 required off two overs and Obed McCoy, having faced the brunt earlier, set to bowl the last over, Prasidh Krishna bowled a dream 19th over. The wicket-maiden, which saw him first contain and then dismiss Lalit bowling around the wicket, ensured Powell had too much on his platter.
In the end, despite the pyrotechnics from Powell, who started the last over with three sixes, the third of which was followed by dramatic protests from the Capitals players with an appeal for a no-ball, DC fell 15 runs short.
Despite the last over drama, which even forced Capitals’ assistant coach Pravin Amre to sprint to the middle, the night belonged to Buttler.
Only in the last over of the PowerPlay did Buttler get going. He settled the score with left-arm pacer Khaleel Ahmed, who had beaten him on multiple occasions in the first over, with two towering sixes on the leg-side.
Then on, until he holed out to David Warner off the last ball of the penultimate over, Buttler gave a capacity crowd at the Wankhede a reason to chant his name in exhilaration. Kuldeep Yadav was dispatched into the sight-screen with disdain; Shardul Thakur was sent packing into the top-most tier in the Sachin Tendulkar Stand for a 107-metre six while Lalit received the same treatment.
While Buttler was clobbering sixes at will, Padikkal raced to a classy fifty, going after Axar Patel’s left-arm spin with panache. Only after the duo had put on 155, did Padikkal perish.
Buttler, who had raced from 82 to 99 by targetting Kuldeep in the previous over, then flicked Khaleel and sprinted for two to celebrate his third hundred of the season. Samson continued the six-hitting spree to give Royals the cushion, which proved to be crucial on a belter.