Jos Buttler was just another 17-year-old novice cricketer from England, waiting for his chance to break through into the Somerset senior squad when the Rajasthan Royals won its first and only Indian Premier League (IPL) title in 2008.
At about the same time, a 13-year-old Sanju Samson was improving his skills in Thiruvananthapuram, hoping that his career would one day flourish. Both Samson and Buttler watched the televised IPL final and were inspired by the way Shane Warne led a rookie team to victory against a star-studded Chennai Super Kings to take the title.
Although neither of them played under Warne – the captain – they only heard folklore about how the Australian spider legend, who passed away in March, turned raw talents into heroes.
Since 2008, an IPL final berth had eluded Royals.
Jos Buttler Crushes Fourth Century Of IPL 2022, Rises Ahead In Orange Cap Race
But at the Narendra Modi International Stadium on Friday night, Buttler scored his fourth century of the tournament (106 not out, 60b, 10×4, 6×6) and combined with Samson to knock out Royal Challengers Bangalore by seven wickets and reach the final of the tournament – – after 14 long years!
After Prasidh Krishna (three for 22) and Obed McCoy (three for 23) capped Royal Challengers to 157 for eight despite a 42-ball-58 from Rajat Patidar, Royals got off to a breezy start as Buttler and Yashasvi Jaiswal forged a 61-run of an opening partnership.
Jaiswal chased for 158 and hammered two sixes and a four on Mohammed Siraj to pick up 16 runs from the first over, setting the tone. The Mumbai youngster looked aggressive before being caught by Virat Kohli on a point at Josh Hazlewood.
RCB vs RR, IPL Highlights: Rajasthan Royals reach IPL final with win over Royal Challengers Bangalore, Buttler shines with fourth century; RR vs GT in IPL final on Sunday
After Jaiswal’s exit, Buttler rebuilt with Samson. As the Royals captain took his time to settle down, Buttler ripped into the RCB bowlers, hitting Harshal Patel and Shahbaz Ahmed for a flurry of four. As the two looked confident, the Royals reached 112 runs in 11 overs. But just when it looked like they were about to gallop across the line, Sanju was surprised by Dinesh Karthik at a delivery from Wanindu Hasaranga.
And with 45 runs needed, Buttler made sure there was no slip-up. However, the Englishman was granted a reprieve at 66 when Karthik dropped off a nanny at Harshal.
With Shimron Hetmyer for company, Buttler carried on for another century in style and sealed it with a six from Harshal, which went wicketless.
Previously, taking advantage of an early reprieve, Patidar – whose undefeated century against Lucknow Super Giants earned his team a spot in Qualifier 2 – became the only bright spot of the RCB innings as his peers struggled with extra bounce generated by Royals pacers.
With Kohli dropping early, Patidar reigned supreme and got some support from Faf du Plessis and Glenn Maxwell – who intervened with scores of 25 and 24 respectively. But then the Royals fought back by five wickets in the last five overs, taking just 34 runs. Allowed.
Prasidh, who had a nightmarish performance against Gujarat Titans Qualifier 1 at Eden Gardens earlier this week after being hit for three sixes by David Miller, generated a good bounce and made up for most of the conditions. With him and McCoy in action, RCB’s middle class fell apart.
A spirited show not only helped them come back from the horror night against Titans, but also gave the Royals more confidence in the lead-up to the duel at the top against the same opponent.
Titans, here come the Royals!