Eight massive sixes. 64 balls. 124 runs. Jos Buttler produced his personal best in T20s to help the Royals secure their first win of the Delhi leg at the Arun Jaitley Stadium on Sunday.
Buttler’s maiden T20 ton powered the Royals to 220 before Chris Morris, Mustafizur Rahman, and Co. restricted the Sunrisers to 165/8.
Early in the day, Sunrisers’ newly named captain Kane Williamson won the toss and invited the Royals to bat first. Sanju Samson announced a couple of changes with Anuj Rawat making his debut on home-soil in place of Shivam Dube. Kartik Tyagi, who returned to full-fitness, replaced Jaydev Unadkat. SRH made massive changes with David Warner, Jagadeesh Suchith, and Siddharth Kaul dropped. Mohammed Nabi, Abdul Samad, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were given a go.
Openers Jos and Jaiswal had a cautious start with Kumar and Sandeep Sharma just conceding five singles from the first two overs.
Kane made a surprise move when he handed the ball to Rashid as the first change. Jaiswal survived an LBW call, smashed three boundaries but was trapped plumb in front on the last ball.
New to the crease, Sanju Samson hit Khaleel Ahmed for a big six over midwicket. Buttler found a boundary later in the over to get us 12 from the fourth. Rashid came back in the next and troubled Jos by creating a couple of chances. Jos hit two boundaries in the next to make his intentions. We were 42/1 after six overs.
Samson and Jos smashed a six each to get 18 off Shankar’s first over and very smartly, played risk-free cricket in Rashid’s penultimate over. Sanju got a reprieve when he was dropped by Pandey off Sandeep. With the scoreboard reading 77/1 at the halfway mark and with Jos settled in, the Royals stepped on the gas.
Nine came off Rashid’s last over with Jos now middling almost everything. He brought out the scoop in the 12th off Khaleel to bring up his first fifty of the season. Khaleel’s 17-run-over saw the momentum shift. Skipper Samson and Jos stitched a 100-run stand for the third wicket off just 67 balls to lay a solid foundation.
Jos took Nabi to cleaners -- smashing him for two fours and two sixes with RR reaching 159/1 at the end of the 16th over.
Samson fell two short of a well-deserved fifty. He holed out to Samad off Shankar but Jos on the other end was undeterred. A flick to the on-side saw him bring up his first T20 ton -- sending the support group in the stands in raptures.
Riyan Parag, promoted to number four, muscled Bhuvneshwar for a six over long-on. From the other end, Jos kept dispatching the ball to all corners of the stadium, before missing a Sandeep Sharma yorker in the penultimate over. Miller’s last-ball six lifted the Royals to 220.
SRH had a new opener in Manish Pandey to accompany Jonny Bairstow. Kartik Tyagi, in his first game of the season, got the new ball. He consistently clocked over 140 kmph and conceded just four. Seven came from the other off Fizz and Kartik returned with another tight over. SRH were 14/0 after three overs before Bairstow decided to free his arms as Chetan Sakariya came into the attack, hitting him for a six and back-to-back fours.
Pandey’s onslaught saw him hit Kartik out of the park twice in his third over while Morris’ opening over conceded 11, taking SRH to 57/0 at the end of the mandatory powerplay.
Mustafizur, after the strategic time-out, got the first breakthrough for the Royals after cleaning up Manish Pandey. Bairstow followed his fellow opener back to the hut in the very next over off Rahul Tewatia. Kane took his time and the fall of wickets got SRH’s run-rate in check. The Orange team needed 138 off the final 10 with 8 wickets in the bank.
Morris got rid of Shankar and Kane, who never got going, was dismissed for a 21-ball 20 by Tyagi.
Nabi hit Tewatia for a couple of sixes but Mutafizur removed the former Afghan skipper in the very next over. SRH kept losing wickets at a regular interval with debutant Anuj taking a stunner off Morris to dismiss Samad.
Fizz picked his third of the evening when he sent Rashid Khan packing, bringing a close to SRH’s challenge.
SRH fell short by 55 runs and Jos Buttler was adjudged as the Player of the Match for his scintillating ton.
We face Chennai Super Kings next at the same venue on Wednesday, May 05.