Absolute energy can be absolute bliss. Jose Butler proved with a thunderous hundred that it provided the much-needed Philippe for the Rajasthan Royals. His score was fueled by 220/3, with Sunrisers Hyderabad dropping by 55 runs. For the latter, as former captain David Warner left XI, there was no one to turn on the power when needed like Butler, who subsequently grabbed the grass to keep their campaign alive.

Butler’s strength

At his peak, some contemporary batsmen like Butler can thrill with a combination of amazing time, muscle and improvement. For the first 33 balls of the IPL with 33 more killers – one of the most devastating in league history – the Englishman was far from his best. He scratched, stuttered and scored 35 off 33 balls. But in the next 31, he surpassed his own peak, scoring 89 percent, as he combined extreme power with the utmost precision.

A few strokes of Butler made me wonder if he was really playing cricket or embedding the principles of hockey or tennis. Like a scoop he cracked at Khalil Ahmed, he choked and lifted it ‘on the keeper’s head. His passion for tennis became even more apparent when he unleashed terrible cuts and slaps, flew like terrible forehand from his bat, and the terrifyingly fast fielders froze in their posts. Before they could move a muscle, the ball crossed them like an incarnation. Butler had a reverse sweep, comparing himself to a backhand cross court. And he’s at the crease like a baseball player.

After realizing that he could not provide the ball he needed or that his partner Sanju Samson was handling it, he decided to give it more muscle in his shots. When Butler does so, his back foot goes a little deeper into the crease and the front foot moves slightly forward. This will set up his base to utilize all the power he has, which is tied with his fast hands, which is a terrible proposition for bowlers.

Butler chose his bowlers wisely rather than intoxicated by his muscle power. He was careful with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (19 off 13 balls) and Rashid Khan (8 off 12 balls); Against the rest, he threw a warning into the air. Sandeep Sharma scored 40 off 15 balls. Mohammad Nabi hit 20 off five balls and Vijay Shankar hit 18 off seven balls. These ingenuity and clarity shine as brightly as strokes, making Butler one of the game’s best readers. Here, Sunrisers Hyderabad newly appointed captain Kane Williamson lost a trick by bowling Khan in 11 overs. It would have been different if Shankar had not misjudged the conch that Butler misjudged in the long-on off in Khan bowling. He was only seven years old at the time.

Rajasthan slumped on his shoulders. Since the total reached 160 or so in the middle – they have scored 77 for 1 in the half over – they have reached a huge score. Butler cleared the rope eight times with excellent strokes. Some will fade into the third row of the Gautam Gambhir stand, while others will settle in the Virat Kohli Pavilion. He started orbital deliveries of almost perfect yorkers. He demolished anything that was partially short. Length, line, variations, speed, nothing matters as Butler becomes an unstoppable boundary-spitting machine.

Mustafizur subtlety

From the year he made his debut in the IPL, when he took 17 wickets and played a significant role in the then franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad title win, Mustafizur sank without a trace. Since then, he has played in just eight games and missed two seasons altogether. With the disruption due to injuries, Bangladesh also seems to have lost faith in him. But on Sunday, he explained that his best skill had not left him and that he was only about to sting a few games before regaining the ground he had lost.

He was in full flow at Kotla, bothering the batsmen with his cutters, slow balls and yorkers. Master of disguise, it is difficult to understand his variations. So Manish Pandey acted very early in one of his major strokes. The pace change is so wonderfully disguised that the batsman makes no last minute adjustments. The strike came at a ripe time as the Sunrisers reached 57 in six overs. Nabi, who scored 17 off five balls, was given an off-cutter account. Apart from three wickets, Mustafizur gave up just 20 runs in four overs, while the economy rate was just 5 runs. The bowlers gave up an average of 10 runs on an over flat surface.


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