Delhi go top of IPL, Sunrisers’ Buttler hits maiden T20 ton


Jos Buttler (Photo: Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Jos Buttler (Photo: Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Delhi Capitals climbed to the top of the Indian Premier League with a seven-wicket win over Punjab Kings on Sunday after Rajasthan Royals’ Jos Buttler struck his maiden Twenty20 century.

Victory took 2020 runners-up Delhi two points above Chennai Super Kings, who have a game in hand.

Punjab suffered a setback before the match when captain KL Rahul was hospitalised with acute appendicitis.

Stand-in captain Mayank Agarwal did his best to cover the loss of his fellow India batsman, and this season’s leading run-scorer in the IPL, with an unbeaten 99.

But wickets fell around him as Punjab were held to a total of 166-6, with South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada taking 3-36.

Agarwal went into the 90s in the last over, a four and a six off the penultimate two deliveries from Avesh Khan saw him to 95.

Needing six off the last ball for his hundred, the opener could only manage a straight-driven four along the turf.

Agarwal faced 58 balls, including eight fours and four sixes.

India batsman Shikhar Dhawan’s 69 not out guided Delhi to 167-3 as they won with 14 balls to spare.

– ‘Shocked and disappointed’ Warner –

Earlier, England star Buttler’s century set up a 55-run win over Sunrisers Hyderabad after the bottom of the table side dramatically dropped captain David Warner.

Buttler’s 124 was the centrepiece of the Royals’ 220-3, his coming off 56 balls.

The Sunrisers only managed 165-8 in reply at Delhi’s Arun Jaitley Stadium.

Kane Williamson, the new Sunrisers captain, won the toss and elected to field.

But after Yashasvi Jaiswal was lbw early on to Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan, opener Buttler shared a stand of exactly 150 with Rajasthan captain Sanju Samson (48).

Buttler, long regarded as one of the best white-ball batsmen in world cricket, eventually played on as he tried to slog Sandeep Sharma in the 19th over.

In all he faced 64 balls, with 92 of his runs in boundaries — 11 fours and eight sixes.

“Obviously, I really enjoyed that,” Buttler told Star Sports. “I didn’t find it easy and haven’t been in my best form for a while now.”

Manish Pandey, opening in place of Warner, top-scored for the Sunrisers but only made 31, with England’s Jonny Bairstow out for 30 and star batsman Williamson falling for 20.

Bangladesh’s Mustafizur Rahman and South Africa’s Chris Morris took three wickets apiece.

While it was already known that New Zealand captain Williamson would replace Warner as skipper after the Australia opener had overseen five defeats from six matches, the Sunrisers surprised many by dropping the dynamic opener from their XI.

The usually free-scoring left-hander rued his slow batting in the Sunrisers’ previous match against Chennai Super Kings and took “full responsibility” for the defeat.

Warner led Hyderabad to their only title in 2016, although Williamson also replaced him when he was serving a one-year ban in 2018 for his part in the infamous Australia ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.

But never before has Warner lost his place with an IPL franchise for reasons of form.

Sunrisers director of cricket Tom Moody, himself a former Australia all-rounder, defended the decision by saying before the match: “We had to make the hard call, somebody has to miss out and unfortunately it’s him (Warner).

“He’s shocked and disappointed. Anyone would be disappointed.”

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