NAVI MUMBAI: Jos Buttler's manic mayhem was matched in equal measure by spin twins Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal as Rajasthan Royals beat Mumbai Indians by 23 runs in an IPL match on Saturday.
Buttler (100 off 68 balls) scored his second IPL ton off only 66 balls to help the Royals to 193 for 8, which seemed slightly sub-par due to Jasprit Bumrah's (3/17 in 4 overs) brilliant effort.
Ishan Kishan (54 off 43 balls) and unheralded N Tilak Verma (61 off 33 balls) added 81 in 8 overs before Ashwin (1/30 in 4 overs) and Chahal (2/26 in 4 overs) decisively tilted the game in RR's favour between overs 14 to 16 as MI managed only 170 for 8 after 20 overs.
While Royals have now won two out of two, MI have lost both their games in another dismal start to an IPL season.
In the end, there were two factors that combined to bring about MI's downfall.
Firstly, it was Buttler's (11 fours and five sixes) assault against MI's weak-links like Basil Thampi and Murugan Ashwin that made the difference.
Three such overs yielded 73 runs and even Bumrah's brilliance didn't seem to be enough in the final context of the match.
And then while bowling, in between overs 14 and 16, Chahal-Ashwin combination gave away only 16 runs and the chase was derailed.
In the last four overs also, Trent Boult (1 for 29 in four overs), Prasidh Krishna (1/37 in 4 overs) and Navdeep Saini (2/36 in 3 overs) kept things tight by not giving Kieron Pollard (22 off 24 overs) any room to free his arms.
All of them knowing Pollard's weakness against fast wide yorkers, bowled them aplenty to keep the West Indies white-ball skipper under tight leash.
If there was one plus point for MI, that will be young Tilak Verma, who could be the next big player for the franchise with his eye-catching elegance coupled with brute power.
The reverse swept six off Ashwin was brilliant but Tilak played one slog sweep too many to get out off the next ball.
Buttler played shots all round the park to bring up his second IPL hundred and first of the current edition.
It was all the more praiseworthy as Yashashvi Jaiswal (1) and Devdutt Padikkal (7) were dismissed cheaply.
Skipper Sanju Samson (30 off 21 balls) played a good knock as he and Buttler conjured 82 runs for the third wicket.
A late cameo by Shimron Hetymar (35 off 14 balls; 3x4; 3x6) compounded the bowling team's woes.
Buttler, who was off the mark with a boundary to fine-leg and hit his first maximum, a pull shot over mid-wicket, off Daniel Sams (0/32), in the second over seemed on a rampage.
He tore into Basil Thampi's fourth over, hammering him for three maximums and two boundaries, as Rajasthan fetched 26 runs and raced to 43/1.
Buttler, who hit two successive boundaries off Sams, brought up his fifty in just 32 balls and then took the Mumbai Indians attack to task.
At 87/2, after 10 overs, the stage was set for a big score.
Buttler was playing big shots at will and was ably supported by his captain.
The duo was brutal on Murugan Ashwin, hitting him for 21-runs in the 11th over.
Samson struck three sixes and a four, before being dismissed by Kieron Pollard in the 15th over.
Then it was the Hetymar show, as he hit compatriot Pollard for two fours and as many sixes in the 17th over, where RR got 26 runs.
Buttler paced his innings well and reached to the three-figure mark with a single.
However Bumrah's 19th over partially got MI back in the game.