However, while a first Test call-up since December 2016 will be cherished by Buttler, the news could not have come at a worse time for his IPL outfit Rajasthan Royals. Ajinkya Rahane’s men are currently involved in a cut-throat five-way race for two playoff spots.
The Royals will face Royal Challengers Bangalore at home in its final league match. With a victory against Bangalore being the minimum requirement for Rajasthan to qualify for the playoffs, they will dearly feel the absence of their in-form batsman.
With the first Test between England and Pakistan getting underway on May 24 at Lord’s, the England Test squad members are supposed to report for duty by May 17. This means that Buttler will miss the side’s clash against RCB on May 19 as well as the playoffs in case Rajasthan progress.
The Englishman has carried the playoff hopes for the franchise with five consecutive half-centuries since being moved to the top of the batting order.
The rest of Rajasthan’s batting-order has been off colour with Ben Stokes being woefully out of form with the bat.
A third consecutive defeat for franchise has caused a lot of damage. At one point, it looked like the Kings XI would sail into the playoffs after their strong first-half but Tuesday’s defeat has thrown the side into a five-way race for the last two playoff spots in the IPL.
Punjab’s net-run rate took the bigger hit, which has seen the side slide down to fifth position in the IPL. This means the side need to win both their remaining matches.
That defeat will be music to the ears of their opponents on Wednesday at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai. Defending champions Mumbai Indians’ resurgence was brought to a halt by the Rajasthan Royals but such is their net run-rate compared to the other four teams in the playoff race that victories in their remaining two games should seal a place in the last-four.
KINGS XI BATTING WOES
All throughout the IPL, the Punjab franchise has been riding on the wave of KL Rahul’s excellent form with the bat. The opener’s showing along with some handy contributions from Chris Gayle have masked the non-show from the rest of the batsmen in the line-up including Karun Nair, Aaron Finch and Mayank Agarwal.
This soft underbelly was exposed by Royal Challengers Bangalore when Rahul and Gayle fell early on Sunday as the side was bundled out for just 88 runs on a pitch where batsmen should have flourished. This chink in the armour will be definitely be targeted by their opponents on Wednesday. If the openers fail to fire, the rest of the batting line-up will be under extreme pressure.
Remember when things were just going fine for KXIP and then they decided to experiment with their batting order against Rajasthan Royals for no reason.... been all downhill since then. #IPL2018 #KXIPvRCB— Chetan Narula (@chetannarula) May 14, 2018
PRESSURE ON ROHIT
Rohit Sharma has shown both the good and the bad, mostly the latter, when it comes to his batting in this year’s IPL. The Mumbai skipper has been dismissed for a golden duck three times this season and bar two knocks of 94 and 56 against Royal Challengers and Kings XI respectively, the India ODI vice-captain has flattered to deceive.
The latest of his ducks came in the side’s defeat to Rajasthan Royals on Saturday and seeing his performances in the last few matches, the skipper is definitely due a big one on Wednesday.
Rohit Sharma golden duck in IPL— Broken Cricket (@BrokenCricket) May 13, 2018
First 10 seasons: None
This IPL season: 3 times
Mumbai Indians: Suryakumar Yadav, Evin Lewis, Rohit Sharma (c), JP Duminy, Ishan Kishan (wk), Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Ben Cutting, Mitchell McClenaghan, Mayank Markande, Jasprit Bumrah
Kings XI Punjab: KL Rahul (wk), Chris Gayle, Karun Nair, Aaron Finch, Mayank Agarwal, Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin (c), Andrew Tye, Mohit Sharma, Ankit Rajpoot
Fast bowler Umesh Yadav picked up three wickets while another three fell to run-outs as Kings XI were shot out for a paltry 88 in 15.1 overs in Indore.
The Royal Challengers were not troubled one bit during the chase as captain Virat Kohli (48 not out) and fellow opener Parthiv Patel (40 not out) secured victory in 8.1 overs as the entire match took less than 24 of the designated 40 overs.
UMESH TOO GOOD
Royal Challenger’s India pacer Umesh has been simply sensational this year. He had earlier talked about following the advice of bowling coach Ashish Nehra and concentrating on bowling quick and straight.
That strategy was put to great use by the India quick. He first drew an edge from opener Chris Gayle in the very first over, only for wicketkeeper Parthiv to drop the chance.
However, Umesh had his tail up. He went on the attack and peppered the Punjab batsmen with short-pitched deliveries. He first banged one into the pitch as KL Rahul mistimed the ball to Colin de Grandhomme at square leg. Then in the same fifth over, he bowled another short ball close to Gayle, who tried to send the ball outside the ground but could only sky it to Mohammad Siraj at square leg.
Yadav picked a third wicket – that of tailender Andrew Tye – through a short ball that caught the edge behind for figures of 3-23 from his four overs.
PUNJAB DIG THEIR OWN GRAVE
Kings XI had lost six wickets for 78 runs inside 12 overs. Some calm heads were needed at the time to milk the singles and take the total close to 120. However, as it tends to happen in such situations, running between the wickets becomes a casualty.
Punjab lost three of their lower order wickets to run-outs, starting with skipper Ravi Ashwin who went for a suicidal single on the first ball he faced from Moeen Ali.
The run-out of Mohit Sharma was even more incredulous. The batsman worked Moeen towards long on and despite the magnificent AB de Villiers giving chase, Mohit went for a single. De Villiers recovered in time to collect the ball and throw it to the bowler’s end where Mohit was found short.
ALL OVER INSIDE 10
A target of 89 was never going to trouble Bangalore, even if they lost a couple of early wickets. However, given the docile nature of the wicket and the absence of spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman in the Punjab, it never materialised as Bangalore raced to a 10-wicket win.
Captain Kohli remained unbeaten on 48 and keeper Parthiv on 40 on the same ground that produced more than 450 runs in the previous game between Punjab and Kolkata.
BANGALORE MARCH ON
The win keeps the Royal Challengers in contention for a spot in the play-offs. It was a match Kohli’s team simply had to win and they now have five wins from 12 matches.
Punjab, however, are not out of it as yet but shockingly poor effort from their batsmen on a belter of a wicket in Indore will be cause for concern, especially since it has come at a crucial juncture of the tournament.