IPL 2018: A Royal Serving for Rajasthan from Buttler
The game of cricket is a great leveler. And when it comes to the Indian Premier League, the level is beyond imagination. On a given day any bottom table team can upset the kings at the top. Be it Royal Challengers Bangalore upsetting Kings XI Punjab or Chennai Super Kings biting the dust against Rajasthan Royals. One can witness everything in this tournament from an upset to the spicing up of the race for the top-four in the latter stages of the competition.
A Royal Comeback
But what really is the highlight of the tournament, is the dramatic turnaround in the fortunes of the Rajasthan Royals. In the words of Paul Allaire,” We are confident about a turnaround, but the timing is clearly later”. And proving this quote Rajasthan has surprised everyone with its performance. At the half-way mark of the tournament, this team was written off and was considered to finish in the bottom because of its inconsistency; but this is the beauty of this game and this tournament in particular. The team reunited itself and suddenly changed its gears. From being written off to now a contestant for the playoffs, Rajasthan Royals has come a long way.
Buttler in for grand service
There are always many factors behind a turnaround, but the major factor that turned things in Rajasthan’s favor was the promotion of Jos Buttler as an opener. This move of Rajasthan Royals has become a talking point of the tournament. Although, this thing is not new as Mumbai did the same thing last year when they formed a formidable opening pair of Buttler-Patel. With his sensible approach and classical power hitting, the batsman is able to guide the team over the line on more than two occasions despite the failure of other batsmen. His scores of 67, 51, 82, 95 and 94 and his ability to carry the bat till the last over which he did twice against Chennai and Mumbai, has helped in reviving the chances of Rajasthan of making through to the playoffs.
A profitable revenge
Mumbai Indians will surely be feeling the proverb,” Revenge is a dish best served cold.” What happened in 2014 in Wankhede has repeated itself, but this time in Rajasthan’s favor. The stage was same, the teams were same and more interestingly the situation was moreover the same, but this time it was Jos Buttler led Rajasthan, who had the last laugh. The batsman scored a brilliant 94 not-out and helped the team in chasing down the target of 168 in 18 overs.
The win meant that Mumbai’s chances of making through to the playoffs were over with Rajasthan still keeping it alive for the knock-out stages. Initially, Jofra Archer helped Rajasthan in setting the stage, which was perfectly utilized by the Mumbai’s prodigal son, Jos Buttler. The former broke the momentum of the hosts by striking in-form Surya Kumar Yadav and the struggling Rohit Sharma in consecutive deliveries of the 11th over and bowled some tight length, which the hosts found difficult to deal with and then Jos Buttler found himself merrymaking on the familiar looking batsmen friendly pitch.
Buttler scored his fifth consecutive fifty of this tournament as an opener, safely took Rajasthan home and made sure that Mumbai Indians repent their decision of letting Jos Buttler go into the auction for someone like Kieron Pollard, who has warmed the bench after the first five matches. Thus, he ensured a win which was huge and a perfect revenge for the visitors. With both teams on 10 points before this match and the visitor lagging on the net run-rate, this match was crucial for both teams, as both had the potential to be a sustainer in the competition.
The Ultimate Scenario
With a win over Mumbai, Rajasthan Royals gave Chennai Super Kings it’s ticket to playoffs with SunRisers Hyderabad already qualifying it before the game against Chennai Super Kings. Since, only two places and five teams(Mumbai, Rajasthan, Punjab, Kolkata and Bangalore) are remaining, the fight for these two places is a thing to watch out for. Although Bangalore’s emphatic win over Punjab may have paved the way for Rajasthan's place in top four, the question arises, will Rajasthan be able to make it through the playoffs or does it have to wait for its turn next year? Only time will tell the answer to this question but currently, Rajasthan will be riding on the shoulders of in-form Jos Buttler for a win in the remaining two matches against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Jaipur and a big one against Kolkata Knight Riders in Eden Gardens.