It was a Jos Buttler special as Rajasthan Royals (RR) recorded a thumping win over Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in match number 28 of this IPL 2021. Buttler’s stunning knock of 124 helped RR to get to a mammoth 220 after being put into bat first. The England wicket-keeper batsman shared a superb 150-run stand with RR skipper Sanju Samson who scored a 33-ball 48, playing second fiddle to perfection.
In reply, the SRH openers started off well and gave a good start. However, the middle-order couldn’t continue the momentum and crumbled. The 2016 IPL champions eventually stumbled to 165/8, losing by 55 runs. Manish Pandey and Jonny Bairstow were the only batters who got going but they didn’t really carry on either. Mustafizur Rahman and Chris Morris picked up three wickets each.
There were quite a few talking points in this game and here are a few that caught a lot of attention.
Why was David Warner dropped?
Even before the game got underway, there was a massive talking point. David Warner who has been the talisman for SRH was dropped with the franchise releasing a statement that said Warner was axed as captain and Kane Williamson will take over. However, SRH went one step further and dropped the swashbuckling New South Wales opening batsman from the playing XI.
Warner hasn’t been in the best of forms this season. He had mustered 193 runs at an average of 32.16 and a strike-rate of 110.28. He also scored a couple of half-centuries. These are by no means bad numbers but that’s the standard Warner has set for himself.
Ever since Warner joined SRH in 2014, his lowest run tally in a single season of the IPL is 528 runs which came back in 2014 itself. He has won the Orange Cap thrice, most by any player in the history of the IPL. He has smashed 4012 runs at an average of 50.78 while striking at 142.83 for SRH across seven seasons in the IPL. He is the only player to score 50 half-centuries (40 of those coming for SRH) and the list can keep going on and on and on. Warner has literally carried the SRH batting line-up single-handedly in multiple seasons.
Yet, the 34-year-old was dropped from playing XI and Tom Moody felt that it was the team combination that needed to be tweaked and Warner didn’t fit into the best combination. Warner’s absence with the bat was felt as SRH fell way short while chasing 221.
Jos Buttler roars back with a scintillating ton, his first in T20 cricket
Jos Buttler had scores of 25, 2, 49, 8, 5 and 41 coming into this game. His form was one of the reasons for RR’s struggles with the bat. Over the years, Buttler has been a consistent performer for RR and their form has depended on the England wicket-keeper batsman. Thus, it was imperative for Buttler to find form soon and he did so, in style.
He started off in scratchy fashion as he got himself to 35 off 33 balls at the end of 11 overs. But once he got going, there was absolutely no stopping him. He started the carnage and notched up his half-century in 39 balls. Every bowler that came into the attack was deposited into the stands and the fence on a regular basis. He got to his ton in 56 balls, with his second fifty coming in a mere 17 deliveries.
It was Buttler’s first T20 hundred ever. He finally broke the jinx and got to the coveted three-figure mark in the shortest format. In the process, the Englishman lifted RR to a mammoth 220. He ended with a staggering 124 off 64 balls in a knock that included 11 fours and 8 sixes. From 94/1 in 12 overs, Buttler’s knock took RR to 209 in 19 overs and he was aided by Sanju Samson’s 33-ball 48 as well.
SRH’s tactics surprise
David Warner’s axing as skipper and exclusion from playing XI was a massive call. However, apart from that, there were quite a few bizarre moves. Despite an excellent first over, the returning Bhuvneshwar Kumar was taken off the attack and came back only in the 6th over.
Rashid Khan has a splendid head-to-head record against Jos Buttler and Sanju Samson but he bowled out very early. In fact, the Afghanistan leg-spinner finished his quota in the 11th over as SRH were in search of a few wickets. That was the earliest that Rashid has ever completed his four overs in his IPL career. He bowled two overs in the powerplay and maybe, SRH finished him off a touch too early.
The use of the fifth bowler was slightly baffling as well. Vijay Shankar and Mohammad Nabi combined to complete that quota and conceded 63 runs in four overs combined. Three of those overs came in the last six overs. Yes, SRH were looking to attack and take wickets but leaving someone like Vijay Shankar to bowl at the death calls for trouble big time.
With the bat, it was always going to be a huge ask, especially in the absence of Warner. Manish Pandey and Jonny Bairstow gave SRH a decent start, scoring 57 runs in the powerplay. However, both openers were dismissed in successive overs. Kane Williamson expectedly walked out at No. 3. However, what followed was strange. With the asking rate almost 13 runs an over, SRH sent in Vijay Shankar and Kedar Jadhav ahead of powerful hitters like Mohammed Nabi and Abdul Samad.
Nabi came out in the 13th over when SRH needed 116 runs in 7.1 overs while Samad strode out to bat in the 15th over when SRH required 96 runs from 34 balls.