Put into bat on a hot afternoon, Rajasthan surged to 220/3 on the back of a crackling 124 off 64 balls from Buttler while putting on 150 for the second wicket with Sanju Samson whose contribution was 48. Across 13 completed seasons, Rajasthan have never lost after crossing 200 when batting first and that truism was extended against SRH who replied with 165/8.
SRH leave out fit and available Warner
After David Warner’s removal as captain of SRH a day before, via a statement released by the franchise which suggested a change would be made to the combination of internationals used in their playing XI for Sunday’s match, speculation was rife about who would be left out? Would SRH, having named Kane Williamson captain, keep Warner in the XI? Or would they give him a break after he took the blame for the loss to Chennai Super Kings and admitted that his batting has not been near match-winning (Warner’s strike-rate of 110.28 is by far his lowest in 12 IPL seasons and a huge drop from a tournament career strike-rate of 140.13.)
When Warner’s name was not included in SRH’s team at the toss on Sunday, experts such as Brett Lee termed the decision as “shocking” and plenty of fans of the franchise were left stunned. The SRH Facebook and Twitter pages were flooded with angry comments from supporters who termed the call to leave out a fit and available Warner as “disrespectful”, “stupid” and “shameful” with many saying that without the Australian, they would not support the team.
Whatever the rationale was behind it, Sunrisers’ decision to omit Warner left them without a world-class batsman short in what would prove a huge chase.
Rashid strikes early, but wastes a review too
In a break from the script this season, Williamson turned to Rashid Khan for the third over of the match and the decision paid off immediately. Second ball, Williamson reviewed a not-out decision from umpire Chris Gaffaney after Yashasvi Jaiswal missed a sweep shot to a full delivery that dipped into the stumps. Ball-tracking indicated the ball from Rashid would have missed off stump and the bowler gave a rueful smile to Jaiswal.
However, Rashid had figured out what the batsman was keener to do and bowled another fizzing delivery that struck the opener on the pads in front of middle stump. Beaten for pace and length, Jaiswal was a goner as soon as he decided to play off the back foot. He had a word with Buttler who advised him to walk off, and Rajasthan were 17/1.
In his second over, Rashid beat Buttler on the reverse sweep and belted out another loud appeal, and then strained his vocal chords as the Englishman skipped out and lofted over mid-on down the ground where Vijay Shankar miscalculated the ball’s trajectory and failed to hold the offering.
Replays then showed that the ball to beat Buttler’s reverse-sweep earlier was hitting the stumps, but having lost their review in Rashid’s first over, Sunrisers were left to grimace after seeing those visuals.
The Buttler does it
Buttler was on 7 at the time, and progressed to 124 while adding 150 with Samson. Buttler continued to struggle against Rashid, who in 12 deliveries bowled to him allowed eight runs without a boundary conceded. But to the SRH pacers he was fluent, glancing and clipping the returning Bhuvneshwar Kumar for two fours, slicing Khaleel Ahmed past point and swatting Shankar for six.
Samson was away with a six first ball faced, rocking back to pull Khaleel over midwicket, and then played an eye-catching shot offf Shankar, up and over mid-off for six off the back foot. When he was 23 off 14 balls, Samson drove Sandeep Sharma over mid-off and was put down by Manish Pandey, the best fielder in the SRH side. That drop cost SRH 25 runs.
Rashid was bowled out inside 11 overs, a gamble that Williamson felt was worth taking. His first three overs cost just 15 runs and the final one went for nine as Samson danced out and beat long-on to get four and kept singles ticking. Buttler scored his first half-century this season, off 39 balls, by drilling Sandeep for a straight six and followed up with a tennis-style slap over extra cover for four. Then Khaleel was swung over long-off, before Mohammad Nabi was welcomed into the attack in the 15th over with two fours and two sixes.
Buttler needed just 17 balls to move from 50 to his century. A slap into the covers to beat the sweeper fielder took Buttler to 99, surpassing his previous IPL best of 95, and the maiden T20 hundred came up off 56 deliveries. He moved from 102 to 124 in six balls, taking Sandeep for 6, 4, 6, 6 before dragging a wide ball onto the stumps in the 19th over. His last 24 balls faced, Buttler scored at a strike-rate of 292.
Once openers exit, SRH collapse
Pandey, promoted to open, failed to score off the first four deliveries bowled by Kartik Tyagi and then got four off the fifth as he hopped back awkwardly and nicked over Samson’s head when not in control. Despite Jonny Bairstow pushing his first ball faced past extra-cover for four, just 14 runs came from the first three overs.
Bairstow began the fourth over by driving Chetan Sakariya for six and then mistimed another big hit over the bowler’s head. Buttler, running back from mid-off, did well to reach the skier but dropped it as it came down, and the ball dribbled away for four. Next ball, Bairstow beat cover and point with sweet timing. Two sixes off Tyagi roused Pandey from his slumber and successive fours took SRH to 57 without loss at the end of the Powerplay. But that’s as far as he got, for immediately after the timeout a clever full delivery from Mustafizur Rahman snuck under Pandey’s bat and bowled him for 31 off 20 balls.
Moments later, Bairstow chipped an inviting delivery from Rahul Tewatia to the debutant Anuj Rawat running in from long-on, having made 30 from 21. Sunrisers were 70/2 after eight overs.
A drop at midwicket when Williamson, on 12, pulled a short ball from Chris Morris to Sakariya momentarily gave Sunrisers some relief, but off the next ball Shankar mistimed a slog and was taken at mid-on. As it panned out, Williamson was able to add only eight runs to his total before he again tried a pull and picked out Morris at deep midwicket to leave SRH at 105/4 in the 13th over.
Nabi began by targeting the stands, hitting Tewatia for sixes over the sight screen and then midwicket, but lasted only five balls before he fell miscuing a crafty back-of-the-hand slower one Mustafizur. With the asking rate nearing 23 an over, Abdul Samad slogged Morris up in the air and Rawat – a wicketkeeper for Delhi by trade – held his third catch on debut at his home ground. Morris bowled Kedar Jadhav in the same over and ended with another fine haul this season, while Mustafizur capped a great evening with 3/20.