IPL 2022: Rajasthan Royals coach Kumar Sangakkara on Jos Buttler

Kumar Sangakkara has been associated with the Indian Premier League from its inception – first as a player and now as a coach. But in his long stint, he can’t remember anyone other than Jos Buttler who has “punched so well in the history” of the tournament.

The English battle throne continued its dream run, hitting its fourth century in this edition of the tournament on Friday, leading the Rajasthan Royals to the final of the tournament, facing Gujarat Titans.

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While it will be the first final of the Royals since 2008 when it won the inaugural edition, the tournament was also a happy hunting ground for Buttler – who, he admits, made it into the IPL, with very little training.

But since landing in Mumbai in mid-March, Buttler has looked determined both on and off the field. So far, he has amassed 824 runs with a strike rate of 151 and is pulling the Orange Cup with fervor.

It may read like a flawless story, but the journey hasn’t been easy for the 31-year-old. After asserting his presence in the first half of the tournament, Buttler suddenly found himself out of suit and failed to convert the starts into big scores. Buttler entered the playoffs with a string of low scores (2, 2, 7, 30, 22).

It was a tough phase for sure, but with players like Sangakkara and Trevor Penney around, Buttler was able to relax, think about what went wrong and eventually bounce back.

READ | Buttler: We all miss Shane Warne very much

“It’s hard to describe what he’s done for us this season, in terms of T20 batting. He started so well that he fluttered a bit (then) at one point in the tournament. But then he calmed himself down, had a lot of good conversations instead of just training, accepted that he is mortal and human and that he cannot be at that high level of excellence every day,” Sangakkara said a while after Royals Royal defeated. Challengers Bangalore by seven wickets to storm into the final.

“But trying to understand how you get to that level in each game, in different phases – some days you have to fight and look ugly, other days your rhythm is there. And the reality is you can’t fight that state, fight against what happens in the day. You just have to settle in and build those innings, and you can accelerate anytime. He has all the strokes, he’s a nice guy, he understands the game very well,” said Sangakkara, “and I can’t remember anyone else hitting that well in the history of the IPL…”

A seasoned IPL campaigner, Buttler was part of the Mumbai Indians side that won the tournament in 2017, beating Rising Pune Supergiant in a cliffhanger, and from next season the English ace moved on to the Royals. There have been quite a few dull seasons, but even then the franchise showed confidence and held onto it for this year’s mega sale.

READ: IPL 2022: Prasidh has the potential to succeed at any level, says Sangakkara

And Buttler also did his best to live up to expectations. Along with captain Sanju Samson, he has been the Royals man several times on Fridays and that chemistry has worked. And the team’s cricket director, Sangakkara, also had a word of praise for Sanju.

“Sanju has been exceptional. He started off with a pretty tough test last season, with quite a young side, with a lot of turmoil about Covid bubbles, players pouring in and out, a two-half tournament. He has really grown into his role, he is a very gentle, very reserved person, exceptionally adept with the bat. But he has shown a lot of passion and hunger to play for this franchise, to take on this testing role of captain. Being the wicket-keeper, captain and best hitter – along with Jos Buttler – is not an easy role to fill. But he has done very, very well this season,” Sangakkara said.

“He’s become more and more aware of what his role is – that he’s really only captain when he’s fielding and when he’s batting, he’s just Sanju Samson, the batter who has to bat with freedom and pleasure. His tactical awareness has improved all the time and it will only get better, he is really trusted by his team, the team really look up to him as a leader, he has inspired them both off the pitch and off and i couldn’t be prouder are on how Sanju has grown and the individual and the captain that he is,” explained Sangakkara.

Neither Sanju nor Buttler were on the track when the Royals won the title in 2008 led by Shane Warne. They have only heard folklore. But on Sunday, they have a rare opportunity to make history; a perfect opportunity to pay a fitting tribute to their ‘first Royal’, who passed away in March – Shane Keith Warne!

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