Rajasthan Royals batsman Jos Buttler extended his sensational form in IPL 2022 as he smashed a record-equalling fourth century to guide his team to victory against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday and seal a spot in Sunday's final against Gujarat Titans.
Chasing 158 for victory at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, Buttler blasted an unbeaten 106 off 60 balls as Rajasthan reached 161-3 with 11 balls to spare.
Bangalore, made to bat in the second qualifier, had earlier managed just 157-8 as fast bowlers Prasidh Krishna and Obed McCoy picked up three wickets each on a helpful surface.
Buttler’s sixth six proved to be the winning runs. His fourth ton equaled Kohli’s record in the 2016 IPL.
It will be the second final appearance for Rajasthan who won the inaugural edition in 2008 under late Australian hero Shane Warne.
"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 also leads the tournament's batting chart with 824 runs.
"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."
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Rajasthan fans held life-size posters of Warne at the 132,000 capacity stadium which had a large attendance. The final on Sunday is expected to see a full house, making it the most attended cricket match in history.
Buttler got the Royals off to a flier with a 61-run opening stand in 31 balls with Yashasvi Jaiswal, who fell to Australian seamer Josh Hazlewood at the start of the sixth over.
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. He also had a slice of luck on 66 when wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik dropped a regulation edge behind in the 11 over.
Earlier Bangalore lost Virat 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.
The right arm quick got the ball to jump and move at high pace and had Kohli pushing at an away going delivery. Wicketkeeper and captain Sanju Samson took a simple catch behind.
Captain Faf du Plessis put on a 70-run stand with Rajat Patidar as the pair attempted to resurrect the innings.
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 first slip for 25 off McCoy, who returned figures of 3-23.
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. Wickets kept tumbling as Krishna took two from successive deliveries in the 19th over to return figures of 3-22 from his four.
Bangalore captain Du Plessis said he was pleased with his team's performance.
"Great season for RCB, really proud. My first season coming in and seeing how special the fans are everywhere we go. A big thank you to everyone coming out and supporting us," the South Africa said.
"Have had some incredible performances for us. Harshal [Patel] has been amazing. DK [Dinesh Karthik].. all the guys picked for India. Obviously disappointed tonight. Came up against a really strong Rajasthan team who probably deserve it more than us."