Jos Buttler’s magnificent second IPL hundred was beautifully complemented by a ‘five-star’ Yuzvendra Chahal, who spun his web with a hat-trick as Rajasthan Royals won a high-scoring thriller against Kolkata Knight Riders by 7 runs here on Monday.
Buttler’s 61-ball 103 had nine fours and five sixes as Royals scored an imposing 217 for five but KKR skipper Shreyas Iyer (85 of 51 balls) made a match of it in company of Aaron Finch (58 off 28 balls).
However, it was the 17th over when Chahal (5/40 in 4 overs) removed Venkatesh Iyer off his first delivery and then Shreyas, Shivam Mavi and Pat Cummins off the fourth, fifth and sixth balls to completely turn the match on its head.
From 180 for 4, it became 180 for eight but Umesh Yadav had other ideas. He hit two sixes and a four off Trent Boult’s 18th over to bring the equation down to 18 from last two overs.
With 11 required off last six balls, West Indies left-arm pacer Obed McCoy kept his cool to get Sheldon Jackson and Umesh to bring cheers to the Royals camp.
It was perhaps the best IPL match of the current season, on the occasion of 14th anniversary of the most watched T20 league in world cricket.
And it couldn’t have been a more fitting day for Buttler to score a scintillating hundred on a day when rival coach Brendon MCCullum had scored 158 off 73 balls to kick-start the league in 2008.
Some of Buttler’s shots were just out of the ordinary, including one off Umesh (0/44 in 4 overs) which landed into the adjacent tennis courts of Cricket Club of India.
When he finally got out trying to hook Pat Cummins (1/50 in 4 overs), Royals had crossed 180-run mark and by then the Australian Test captain was hammered for as many as seven fours and a six, bulk of them by the dashing England keeper-batter.
Buttler added 97 runs for the opening wicket stand with Devdutt Padikkal (24 off 18 balls), who only faced deliveries worth three overs in the first 10 overs.
After Padikkal’s departure, Buttler was then joined by skipper Sanju Samson (38 off 19 balls), who was equally destructive in their 67-run second wicket stand in just 5.4 overs.
None of the KKR bowlers save Sunil Narine (2/21 in 4 overs) looked like posing any threat to Buttler, who seems to be walking away with the Orange Cap with an aggregate of 375 runs in six games so far.
Varun Chakravarthy (0/30 in 2 overs) seemed to be getting from bad to worse during the season as neither there was bite nor any mystery in his deliveries and it was like cannon fodder on a Brabourne batting beauty.
The fifth bowling option turned out to be a nightmare as Andre Russell (0/29 in 2 overs) completed Chakravarthy’s quota as they cumulatively gave away 59 runs in 4 overs.
Shivam Mavi (1/34 in 4 overs) and Umesh started off well during the first two overs primarily because Padikkal is out of sorts.
However, showing cricketing smarts, Padikkal gave Buttler bulk of the strike and that changed the course from the third over of the match.
Umesh, who had started the tournament on a bright note, got back to his old self of being erratic as Buttler lofted him for a four and a six off successive deliveries.
The floodgates opened after that as he literally toyed with Chakravarthy, whom he hit for a six by rocking back and having enough time to send him into the orbit.
If there was a wide yorker, he would steer past third-man, short deliveries were pulled and those on the legs were tucked behind square.