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As England welcome India for three T20Is and three ODI matches starting today, there is a concern for the visitors. How will they stop Jos Buttler?
The player has cashed on well with the purple patch he has been in. Time, as they call, is important to make use of one’s capabilities. Jos Buttler has been doing just that. Containing Jos Buttler could be a mighty task for India in limited-overs.
India already has plenty at stake in this limited-overs series, facing a side that is playing exceptional cricket at the moment. It’s a new start for both these teams and there is plenty on offer. There is no clear favourites in both the formats. Such is the significance of this series and Buttler in between has risen up as a prime force, waiting to play to his strengths.
Allowing Buttler to open in T20Is alongside Jason Roy, and letting him don the role of a finisher in the ODIs, England has got this spot on. The Eoin Morgan-led side knows what they are doing and how to cash in from the same.
India will provide them with their biggest test in the limited-overs format, but the hosts will feel they are ready to accept the challenge with open arms. England has been exceptional in the 50-over format and is rightly ranked the number one team. In T20Is, the win against the Aussies recently will give them the feel-good factor.
A game changer in limited-overs
England needs Buttler to give them the edge and the momentum needed to go forward. So here is a player, who could just make the difference and there is a lot of optimism in the England squad going into this series. Yes, the likes of Roy, Alex Hales and Jonny Bairstow have been the consistent forces this year for England, but Buttler has now joined them in the list.
That’s where India’s bowlers will be challenged the most in keeping this collective batting force under wraps. Recent outings suggest that will be difficult, but one should not forget India’s achievements in both formats as well. Buttler has become a serious game-changer. He has taken the game to a different level. In T20Is, the flair and shot-making upfront is a rare treat.
The finisher one hopes for
His mindset of playing positively and making use of the power-plays makes him a natural player. What bodes well for England is his ability not just to score brisk runs, but also to keep that momentum going right until the end. And the more he stays longer, the maximum chances for his side to get a lot of runs.
In ODIs, the role is even more challenging. He has become a finisher just like MS Dhoni, knowing how to play as per the situation. Be it in a chase when his side needs a hand, or batting first when his team want a blitz in the death overs. That’s where Buttler joins the party. He has developed a knack of playing each role just the way it’s needed to be done.
Buttler’s match-turning interventions started in May 2018. And now, it’s slowly becoming a routine. That’s a danger for India. With Jasprit Bumrah ruled out of the T20I series, India has been handed a blow.
Bumrah’s injury a blow
Bumrah, like Bhuvneshwar, is excellent both at the start and while finishing the innings. The battle against English batsmen especially for someone like Buttler would have been an exciting prospect for the duo. Now with Bumrah gone, a lot will depend on Bhuvneshwar to maintain the consistency.
Then there is the impact of wrist spinners and the Indian duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have been in tremendous form. But Buttler is gratifying against spin too. So another strong battle on the cards here. The spin pair recently took 13 wickets against Ireland and they will know Buttler from their Indian Premier League 2018 meetings. It could turn out to be the highlight of this limited-over series.
Buttler’s performances against India
Against India, Buttler hasn’t quite played well in the past. In 12 ODIs, he has managed just 237 runs at an average of 23.70. Out of these matches, 104 runs have come in England with a best of 49 back in 2014. In the T20Is too, he has faced India nine times and got just 84 runs.
The last time he played against Kohli’s side was in 2017, when he amassed a 15 and a nought. That’s where Bumrah was exceptional. He got Buttler on both occasions with the ball hurrying on to him quickly then he expected and it left him cramped for space.
There is a lot of positives for India, as they will look back at their exploits against Buttler and hope they can use that against him. For England, they will feel that times have changed and that Buttler now is wiser and is in the best form of his life. So there is every chance of changing the past.
A complete batsman
Buttler has shown that he could be that expert marshalling of the English lower-order and that’s why he’s probably the most complete batsman in modern day cricket. This phase for England is promising and Buttler is in the thick of things.
His knock in the final ODI against Australia showed his capabilities as that of a finisher that a lot like Dhoni or a Michael Bevan. A 22-ball fifty in the one-off T20I was another prime example of his exploits in the shortest format.
Buttler has created a buzz and an aura all around and if he performs well against India, he will stay true to the billing. Can India go out and stop Buttler from making inroads? Will the wrist spinners be their trump card?
There’s plenty for fans to wonder and a lot for the Indian cricket team to ponder in keeping the most complete batsman in check.
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