On Friday night at the colosseum called the Narendra Modi Stadium, with close to 1,00,000 spectators relishing every bit of ultra-entertaining batting, Buttler slayed the Royal Challengers Bangalore bowlers in the second qualifier at will in a pulverising 60-ball 106, which took the Rajasthan Royals into their first IPL final since the inaugural season in 2008.
While the Englishman waltzed to his fifth hundred in the IPL overall, the next highest score after his was Sanju Samson’s 23. Buttler has now scored 824 runs at an average of 58.85 with a strike rate of 151.47 in a tally which includes four hundreds and four fifties.
On Sunday, in the final against Gujarat Titans, he has a chance to go past Virat Kohli’s record of four hundreds in a single IPL edition.
While it’s indisputable that Buttler is the most dangerous top-order batsman in T20 cricket around the globe at the moment, former Sri Lankan great Kumar Sangakkara, presently the director of cricket at RR, hailed his opener’s blazing form by saying that he “can’t remember anyone batting this well in the history of the IPL.”
“He’s got all the strokes, he’s a lovely guy. He can accelerate at any point, and understands the game really well. I can’t remember anyone batting this well in the history of the IPL,” Sangakkara said at the post-match press conference here on Friday night.
That statement may stir a debate.
In 2016, Kohli, enjoying a Bradmanisque streak, rustled up 973 runs in 16 games at an average of 81.08 with a strike rate 152.03, including seven fifties and four centuries to boot. In 2011, “Universe Boss” Chris Gayle, after remaining unsold in the auction, was bought by RCB and smashed 608 runs in just 12 games at an averate of 67.55, with three fifties and two hundreds under his belt.
However, the impact that Buttler’s golden touch has had on his team is indisputable. The beauty of his golden run with the bat is that in between smashing the best bowlers on the planet to all the corners of the park, he endured a lean period too!
In a season of two halves for him, Buttler kicked off with a bang, then went through a slump, before finding his mojo in the knockouts again.
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Breaking down his superstar opener’s IPL-2022 journey of ‘self-discovery,’ Sangakkara said, “It’s hard to describe what he has done for us this season, in terms of T20 batting. He started off so well, (then) had a little bit of a flutter at one point in the tournament. But then he just calmed himself down, had good conversations rather than just training, accepted that he’s mortal and human and he can’t be at that high level of excellence every single day. But trying to understand how you reach that level in every game, at different stages – some days you have to fight and look ugly, other days your rhythm is there.
“And the reality is that you can’t fight that condition, fight what’s happening on the day. You have to just settle into it and build that innings, and you can accelerate at any point.”.
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What makes Buttler such a massive demolition force in T20 cricket? His technique is simple: see the ball, hit the ball. Of course, his ‘360 degree’ repertoire of strokes makes it difficult to contain him.
Analysing Butler’s core strength, Sangakara said, “I think it’s just his overall game. He’s got some pretty potent strengths, and once he recognises that and trusts those strengths, he then manoeuvres the rest of the bowling to go more and more into his strengths. He’s great against spin, he has got all the shots, and he chooses on certain days which shots to play and which shots to put away for a while. The good thing about Jos Buttler is that he can accelerate at any time. He can be 30 off 30 and then suddenly get to 80-90 off 50.”
For someone who’s made this IPL his own, Butler left everyone stumped when he revealed on Friday night that he came into this tournament with “low expectations.”
“I came into the season with very low expectations, but a lot of energy and excitement for the tournament. To still be here now, and the season I’ve had with such a great team, and to get ourselves into the final, is incredibly exciting,” the explosive ‘keeper-batter told host broadcaster Star Sports.
The pressure of expectations, it seems, had begun to affect arguably the best white-ball batsman of our times.
“I’ve had some really honest conversations with some close people around me, and with Sangakkara and Trevor Penney (assistant coach). I was actually feeling a bit of pressure. I was getting distracted, and I tried to suppress it, but it wasn’t until a week or so when I actually opened up and started talking about that and it made me feel a lot better. I went to Kolkata (for Qualifier 1) a lot more relaxed and obviously that innings gave me a lot more confidence today,” said Buttler.