Jos Buttler paid tribute to former Rajasthan Royals captain Shane Warne after the England batsman hit an unbeaten 106 to lead his team into the IPL final.
Rajasthan rode on Buttler’s record-equalling fourth century of the tournament to hammer Faf du Plessis’ Royal Challengers Bangalore by seven wickets on Friday and book a title clash with the Gujarat Titans on Sunday.
Chasing 158 for victory at the world’s biggest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad, Rajasthan reached their target with 11 balls to spare in the second qualifier as Buttler equalled Virat Kohli’s record of four tons in an IPL season.
It will be the second final appearance for Rajasthan who won the inaugural edition in 2008 under late Australian hero Warne, who is called the ‘first Royal’ by the team.
“To be able to get the opportunity to go and play in the final of the biggest T20 tournament in the world is incredibly exciting,” said Buttler, who leads the tournament’s batting chart with 824 runs.
On emulating Warne in reaching the final, Buttler said: “You mention Shane Warne, he is such an influential figure for the Rajasthan Royals and having led the team to success in that first season, we will miss him dearly, but we know he is looking down on us with a lot of pride today.”
The spin legend’s death from a suspected heart attack aged 52 on 4 March shocked the cricketing world, with Royals saying he “made us believe”.
Rajasthan fans held lifesize posters of Warne at the 132,000-capacity stadium, which had a large attendance.
Buttler punched the air in delight when reaching his hundred and then hit the winning six to extend Bangalore’s wait for a first IPL title. His 106* came from 60 balls and included 10 fours and six sixes.
The in-form Englishman hit three centuries in the first half of the IPL before hitting a brief lull only to come back with an 89, albeit in a lost cause in the first playoff.
“I had a season of two halves, and had very honest conversations with people really close to me,” revealed Buttler.
“I was feeling the pressure midway, and it was only about a week ago that I opened up about it. It helped me and I went to Kolkata with a freer mind and that innings gave me the confidence that helped today.”
© Agence France-Presse