RR vs KKR – The 12th match of the IPL 2020 tournament between the teams, Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders, could all be about match-ups. We take a look at a key game plan that could play a role in the RR vs KKR IPL fixture.
RR vs KKR – Jos Buttler, the beast
Jos Buttler is a T20 beast. Teams want him to open the batting. Teams want him to finish matches from the middle-order. Teams want him to play like Sunil Narine, AB de Villiers and David Warner all at once.
The truth, however, is that Buttler is a phenomenal beast who has carved out his own path in T20 cricket. Unlike a Warner or Rohit Sharma, Buttler doesn’t build towards a breathtaking strike-rate. Unlike a Sunil Narine, Buttler does not fizzle away after an outrageous start. He survives the powerplay more often than not while scoring at a rate – 163.7 – second only to Narine in the IPL since 2018.
Countering Buttler will be a task, especially when there’s the stable Steven Smith and the dynamic Sanju Samson alongside him in the top three. But luckily for KKR, they have the right duo to do so in Pat Cummins and Sunil Narine.
RR vs KKR – The counterplan to Jos Buttler
“I think Pat Cummins [on being asked the most threatening pacer in the Aussies Test line-up]. He is express pace, but also relentless with his accuracy. That aggression and that skill level,” Buttler had said during the 2019 Ashes.
Cummins had dismissed Buttler five times in the series. But that’s Test cricket. Cummins is expected to thrive and Buttler is expected to fail there. T20s are a different ball game – one where Buttler is the King and Cummins – well, keep aside his Rs 15.5 crore paycheck – is ordinary.
However, in the recently concluded T20I series between England and Australia, Buttler was brutal on the Aussies, scoring at a frenetic pace opening the batting in the two games he played.
While he struck at a rate of over 150 against the other Aussie bowlers, against Cummins, Buttler made 23 runs in 19 balls, playing out 8 dots and scoring just four fours.
The Australian seamer had found a way to tackle Buttler in the powerplay. Cummins’ methods were evident for all to see. He was pacy and bounced the ball into Buttler’s body or went ahead and yorked him just outside the off-stump. The execution was brilliant and Buttler struggled to find his feet against Cummins who kept mixing things up. In the ODIs, he faced 10 balls from Cummins and was dismissed once while scoring just 2 runs.
Cummins didn’t get Buttler out in the T20Is, but he kept a leash on the scoring rate and for KKR, that’s exactly what he will need to do. At the other end, the Karthik-led side can have Sunil Narine bowling to Buttler.
If Narine can mix up his turn and take a few away from Buttler, the England batsman could struggle. He scores at a strike-rate less than 80 against balls turning away from him in the IPL since 2018 in the first six overs. While the sample size is less, the idea Narine can borrow is similar.
Narine also has a good overall record against Buttler although he hasn’t dismissed him in the format since 2016. Kolkata will know that silencing the most dangerous batsman in the Rajasthan side is pertinent to their chances in the fixture and it makes sense to go all out against him first up with their best resources.
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