Jos Buttler strikes 4th IPL ton, powers RR to finals

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Jos Buttler smashed his fourth IPL century at the world’s biggest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad as Rajasthan Royals hammered Virat Kohli’s RCB by seven wickets on Friday to reach the finals.

RR had won the inaugural edition in 2008 under the captaincy of late Australian great Shane Warne. The final will played on Sunday at the same venue after Gujarat, in their debut season, beat Rajasthan in the first qualifier early this week.

Chasing 158, Rajasthan reached their target with 11 balls to spare in the second qualifier as Buttler equalled Kohli’s record of four tons in an IPL season. His 106 not out came from 60 balls and included 10 fours and six sixes.

Fast bowlers Prasidh Krishna and Obed McCoy took three wickets each to restrict RCB to 157-8 and set up victory for Rajasthan.

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Buttler got the Royals off to a flier with a 61-run opening stand in 31 balls with the left-handed Yashasvi Jaiswal who fell to Australian seamer Josh Hazlewood at the start of the sixth over.

The in-form Englishman, who leads the tournament’s batting charts with 824 runs, reached his fifty in just 23 balls.

Wanindu Hasaranga gave RCB some cheer when the leg-spinner dismissed skipper Sanju Samson, stumped for 23.

Buttler reached his hundred and punched the air in delight and then hit the winning six to extend Bangalore’s wait for a first IPL title.

Put into bat first, Bangalore lost Kohli for seven after their former captain hit New Zealand left-arm quick Trent Boult for a six in the opening over but soon fell to Krishna in the next.

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Kohli had hit a match-winning 73 in his team’s last league match after a largely difficult season featuring three golden ducks.

Skipper Faf du Plessis put on a 70-run stand with Rajat Patidar as the pair attempted to take the attack to the opposition bowlers.

Patidar, who made an unbeaten 112 in Wednesday’s eliminator against Lucknow Super Giants, fought a lone battle after being dropped on 13. Du Plessis did not have any such luck and was caught at short third man off McCoy, who returned figures of 3-23. He made 25.

Patidar reached his fifty with a six off leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal but soon fell to Ravichandran Ashwin as Buttler took a well-judged catch at long off.