“I finally will have Alastair Cook stop telling me that he has got one T20 hundred more than me.” This statement by Jos Buttler might come across as a light-hearted one - and of course, it was - but the fact that this is quite fitting for the larger picture too will make the cut. Perhaps because it came for a team that gave him wings to fly in T20 cricket by promoting him to the top of order three years ago and thus landing all the opportunities to render maximum impact.
You can’t lose sight of that fact when evaluating the carnage that the Englishman inflicted on a depleted Sunrisers, for a whole 19 overs, with a new captain at the helm who was as astute tactically as his predecessor. It was perhaps enough to kill the irony too for Buttler batted with a Warner template to get to his magical figure. A sedate start and never looking backward after that.
The moment Yashasvi Jaiswal witnessed the highs and lows of his fortune with three fours against Rashid Khan in one over, only to be dismissed on the last delivery of the same, the game was going only one way. The Englishman took his own sweet time to settle down with skipper Sanju Samson taking charge but a couple of fours against Bhuvneshwar Kumar freed him up and gave him wings to fly.
The run rate was on an upward curve and the duo toyed with the bowlers to put Sunrisers’ bigger concerns out in the open. Vijay Shankar and Sandeep Sharma bowled a barrage of half-volleys and long hops with the lines being as wayward as their fortune in the game. Buttler took a special liking towards Shankar while Samson slipped under the radar yet frustrated the Hyderabad bowlers to no end.
With two right-handed batsmen in the middle - Buttler averaged 49.5 at an SR of 136.6 with a boundary percentage of 57.5% against offies while Sanju had an average of 41.67 at 122 with a BP of 45.6% in the IPL before this game - Williamson delayed employing Nabi from one end. In the process, he deployed Rashid’s four overs, but him not being able to break the partnership became a crucial turning point. Nabi then was carted around for 21 runs in his first over and the Royals had all the momentum in the world to take the game by its horn. With 74 runs in the last five overs, Rajasthan posted their highest over first-innings IPL total (220), leaving Sunrisers a lot to achieve.
Without David Warner in the ranks, it was always going to be a tough ask for the Hyderabad-based franchise but Manish Pandey’s impressive Powerplay record had some hope written on it. Pandey lived upto the billing with Jonny Bairstow attacking from the other end but a slower cutter castled the Karnataka batsman on the first delivery post powerplay.
It was a procession after that with none sticking around. Kane Williamson didn’t look like the batsman who had two great innings against his name coming to this encounter. He huffed and puffed his way to a struggling 20 off 21 balls after Jonny Bairstow was dismissed by Rahul Tewatia.
There were lots of talks about the worth of Chris Morris before the IPL began but as he has silenced all the critics with a fine death bowling performance, he did that again to leave the Sunrisers in the doldrums. Dismissing both Vijay Shankar and Abdul Samad, he almost ended the 2016 Championship-winning side’s hopes of qualifying for the playoffs this season. The 55-run win has now pushed the Royals to the fifth position on the points table while Sunrisers Hyderabad are placed at the bottom with only one win from seven games.