The accidental move to send Jos
Buttler up in the batting order as a one-off in a rain-curtailed game is one of the few changes that has yielded more than expected for the Rajasthan Royals
. Buttler’s scores as an opener – 67 (26), 51 (39), 82 (58), 95* (60) – tells a story that will probably distress the Royals’ thinktank in hindsight. But what will please them is the manner in which he has been coming good at a desperate stage for the Royals with even one loss putting them in danger of elimination.
Buttler’s latest knock against the Chennai Super Kings was arguably the best among the lot given that it had several fluctuations as the situation demanded, and him coming out in triumph each time.
The first was the need to provide early impetus on a pitch that had teams wary of its gradual slowness. CSK’s attempt to cull Buttler included trying out spin early but to no avail. The batsman rushed to 40 off just 21 balls in the powerplay overs. While he had to innovate to be successful against the spinners in this period, he was also gifted with three loose boundary balls from David Willey that set up the onslaught.
The freeflow didn’t last long as CSK pulled back their lengths and with that the run-rate and pushed Buttler from slog towards grind. Sticking through the period allowed him to be there and do the finishing job, which was done with aplomb.
The knock came in for high praise from the opposition’s coach after the game.
“I was pretty comfortable with the score that we got. But we had to get Stokes and Buttler early, we got Stokes but as I said, Buttler was a class apart. He was able to take the conditions out of play, he still found it difficult as the game went on. We still felt we had a chance if we got him out, but we just didn’t get him out,” said Fleming.
A little while earlier, CSK’s skipper MS Dhoni had voiced his thoughts on being let down by his bowlers and said, “We had to bowl one particular length and the bowlers were instructed on what they need to bowl and where they need to bowl. That back of the length was a difficult one to hit. We at least got hit 4-5 boundaries off full length. What really happens is once you are told what to bowl, you need to be bowling to that area. They need to commit and execute. It is not the planning but the execution that goes haywire. That was a par score or a par plus score. I think the bowlers let us down to some extent.”
Fleming, however, was a little more empathetic towards the bowlers and put down the lack of execution to Buttler’s innings once again.
“It [bowling] could have been better… it’s under pressure that Buttler played a very good innings on a difficult track. We could have been more accurate, we missed a few times. But fair bit of pressure with the way Buttler played,” said Fleming and added, “It was almost two different games wasn’t it, if we could have got him out earlier, I think the result might have been quite different. But I think it was a great lone hand and we had no real answers. He put us under pressure, we hung in there and we certainly had our chances but we just couldn’t capitalise tonight.”
“We could have been more accurate, we could have got another five or ten runs, we could have bowled with a bit more accuracy at key times. But they were just better than us today, Buttler in particular,” summed up Fleming.
But while as good as Buttler was, Rajasthan Royals’ are not yet out of worries as Jaydev Unadkat pointed out at the end of the game. “I think Jos Buttler has been taking the innings forward all on his own in the last four games. It is time for someone to step up in the middle order. It is the business end of the tournament as we all know. It is high time someone else takes up the responsibility. We are getting starts. Stuart Binny played well in the middle while Krishnappa Gowtham struck some crucial blows otherwise, it would have been too hard for Jos to carry us over the line on his own. There are contributions but some extra runs from the middle order are welcome now that we are in the business end of the tournament and it will be crucial.”
And at this juncture, the Royals wouldn’t mind a few happy accidents like the one that made Buttler.