Jos Buttler’s sparkling form was something IPL 2018 needed. The Englishman’s shifting of gears from the middle-order to being an opener was the best decision Ajinkya Rahane took as the skipper of Rajasthan Royals. For a team that looked jaded after those early losses, Buttler’s energy gave a new look to the side and they turned a new leaf.
Yes, it did come at a time that put too much on RR’s plate and eventually the loss against Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens somewhat have ended their chase. But not before what Jos Buttler achieved. Not before when RR gave the chills and thrills. Salute to the swashbuckling player for going in a tempo that was so Gayle-isque in nature.
Jos Buttler is now set to fly back to England and the moments he gave to every fan and neutrals alike, was something that will be remembered for a long long time. Early on he gave RR the platform and license to kill. Then he made sure he won them games. All that has transpired so positively for him, that made the English selectors take note and suddenly he could be playing Test cricket against Pakistan at home.
This is what the IPL has done. That’s why it is the most glamorous and followed T20 global league in the world.
Let’s look at the many facets Buttler provided in IPL 2018 and why RR missed the trick by not going strong earlier.
The moment when the decision arrived
It was RR’s away match at the Feroz Shah Kotla against Delhi Daredevils when rain intervened and the DLS method came into play and suddenly the team needed 151 off 72 deliveries. Till then Buttler was made to come in the middle-order and he never had the say they would have liked. He was pretty must languishing there and the masterstroke came when he was asked to open against DD.
A 26-ball 67 got the visitors almost go past the line as fans were left on the edge of their seats. That was brutal from Buttler. Suddenly it felt as someone freed from a cage and asked to fly. RR did go on to lose the game by five runs, but Buttler savoured one of the best innings ever played at Kotla.
And then the craft and bludgeoning followed
What followed after the 67 runs was sheer craft and bludgeoning of the bowlers. Scores of 51, 82, 95* and 94* followed before another quick-fire 22-ball 39 against KKR. What was extraordinary was the manner in which he came out every time to bat.
If on one side he went whirlwind and got those fast runs, his application against Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians were two brilliant innings that deserved all the plaudits.
He single handedly won those two back to back matches and showed his essence. He paced his innings to perfection and made sure he stayed unbeaten till the end and took his team home. In the last few matches, it was Buttler who scored more than half the runs for RR. The power-plays were a treat every time Buttler came and walked out.
Innovation at its new best
The 28 runs off one over against Shivam Mavi (KKR) at the Eden Gardens showed why he is so innovative. Cheeky shot for sixes and feeding the ball to the ropes through the gaps, was a trademark of Buttler.
One should not forget the 95 runs against CSK where from the beginning until the end he kept going on and on and in the end delivered the goods. A similar innings followed against MI. Not only the scores were big, but he made sure he remained unbeaten.
A book of numbers
Five successive half-centuries saw the versatile Buttler equal Virender Sehwag’s record in IPL. It was these five innings, that gave us a new glimpse of numbers. It helped him amass 389 runs in just 236 balls at a conventional strike-rate of 164.83.
Prior to that five innings, in seven outings in the middle order earlier, he had scored 120 at a strike-rate of 126.31. See the change in runs and the shift of the strike-rate. 548 runs in 13 innings, it ended as Buttler’s best campaign in IPL. 52 fours and 21 sixes showed his prowess as a boundary hitter.
What does he bring for England?
So will England play him as an opener in T20s from now on? They have the likes of Alex Hales, Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow, but seeing Buttler hit runs like this, it may prompt them to tinker their approach. Buttler and Roy could be an ideal opening combination for England and skipper Eoin Morgan followed his progress closely.
England’s assignment against India in July will give us an indication of what he could bring for the team. But there is excitement all around. Prior to that is the Tests against Pakistan and his return to the red ball game is also something fans will be eager to see. For now, its the moment he should be enjoying getting into the scheme of things and with time, things could get much better.