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Jos the Boss is back, and RR are now looking scarier than ever

Last updated on 06 Apr 2024 | 08:04 PM
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Jos the Boss is back, and RR are now looking scarier than ever

Buttler is back as we know him. And as fate had it, he returned back to his very best against one of his favorite opponents

On April 6 (Saturday), the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur witnessed two centuries. They were contrasting tons: while one knock divided opinions despite it accounting for 62% of the team’s total runs, the other was unanimously acknowledged as a fantastic T20 ton that had ‘elite T20 batting’ written all over it. 

We can debate endlessly over whether Virat Kohli’s century actually deserves the kind of criticism it’s been receiving, but the biggest takeaway from the Rajasthan Royals (RR) vs Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) clash is neither Kohli’s divisive approach, nor RR and RCB’s contrasting starts to the season.

Rather, the single biggest Talking Point from Saturday’s clash is that Jos Buttler is back to form. And that’s scary, scary news for the rest of the league.

RR entered the clash against RCB having won each of their first three matches, but they were not firing on all cylinders. They had their fair share of concerns, with the biggest of all being the wretched form of Buttler. 

Heading into Saturday’s contest, Buttler had accumulated 223 runs across his previous 13 IPL innings at an average of 17.15 and a strike rate of 109.8. He’d begun the season with scores of 11, 11 & 13 and had looked devoid of any confidence or rhythm.

He looked so out of touch that his form was starting to become a very serious worry. It’s one thing registering low scores but Buttler’s batting looked so indifferent that he’d registered a powerplay strike rate of 94.12.

58 balls and 100 runs later, however, these concerns are now a thing of the past.

Buttler is back as we know him. And as fate had it, the ‘real S̶l̶i̶m̶ S̶h̶a̶d̶y̶  Jos Buttler returned back to his very best against one of his favorite opponents. 

Heading into Saturday’s clash, RR’s middle-order had done a lot of heavy lifting for the side. But such an approach was always going to turn unsustainable at some point. 

RCB knew this, which is precisely why they had their tails up and smelt blood when Yashasvi Jaiswal departed for a second-ball duck. Now they had an out-of-form Buttler to bowl to. 

And they knew that if they got him, Parag would once again be needed to play a special knock. Possible? Yeah, of course. But the likelihood of the law of averages catching up to Parag was very high.

As it turned out, the law of averages did catch up to one RR batter. Except it ended up being detrimental to RCB, as Buttler, who was reallyyyyyy due a score, finally got his long-overdue big knock.

Buttler could have departed the very first ball, as Reece Topley, who was fired up having dismissed Jaiswal for a duck, cut him in half with an absolute peach. It was the exact kind of delivery the England skipper was often nicking across his past dozen games, but he somehow survived on this occasion, saved by the skin of his teeth.

He survived another close call two overs later, with an uppish, mistimed drive falling in no man’s land.

Only Buttler knows whether he interpreted these close shaves as a sign from heavens that this was going to be his day, but the right-hander played the rest of the innings like a changed man. 

The tentativeness disappeared, as did fear in his batting. Concurrently his confidence grew, and by the end of the powerplay, the last over of which went for 20 runs, RCB were no longer bowling to the same Buttler that took strike at the start of the innings. 

They were instead bowling to the Buttler of 2022, the same Buttler that crushed their hopes of qualifying for the final by smashing a ruthless ton in Qualifier 2 two seasons ago.

Usually, when Buttler is at his very best, you get to see this exhibition of effortless power hitting. He’s smashing it a million miles but it looks like he’s caressing the ball. 

This brutal-but-effortless power hitting was on display in Jaipur against RCB as hammered the opposition spinners. 

He also makes you go ‘WOW’ when he’s at this very best and he did that on more than one occasion tonight. Still, it’s impossible to not single out the moment he made every single viewer’s jaw drop by muscling a painfully slow slower-one from Yash Dayal over long-off. 

Here, look for yourself. Did this shot not put a smile on your face while simultaneously leaving you in disbelief?

Once Buttler turned on the switch, RCB had no answers. The chase was over with a good six overs to go, and from thereon, it was all about how much the England skipper could score and boost his confidence. 

As it turned out, he went all the way and smashed his sixth IPL century. He provided the ultimate ‘feel-good’ moment on the first ball of the final over by getting to his century by smashing a six — with him batting on 94* and with the team needing one run to win. 

The perfect end to a perfect knock.

This return to form is a timely personal boost for Buttler, who has had a rough few months across competitions, but more importantly it’s something that must now put every other side in the IPL on red alert.

Before tonight, RR had won three on the bounce without their top-order clicking. Now they’ve won four on the bounce and Buttler is back in form. 

There’s only one box left for them to tick, which is the form of Jaiswal.

Imagine if Jaiswal too ends up finding form soon. What could then possibly stop this RR team from going all the way?

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