'Incredible' Buttler lights up IPL with tons of runs
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Jos Buttler has smashed three centuries in seven Indian Premier League innings to reinforce his status as one of the world's best Twenty20 batsmen and says he has rarely played as well before.
The 31-year-old English opener slammed 116 off 65 deliveries to guide his Rajasthan Royals to the top of the table in the world's most valuable cricket tournament on Friday.
He has already piled up 491 runs this IPL season and is chasing Indian superstar Virat Kohli's 2016 record of 973.
"I'm really enjoying some of the best form of my life and trying to work out why, and sort of bottle that up and continue that form," a smiling Buttler said in his man of the match speech.
The soft-spoken Buttler has come a long way from his unbeaten 227 in a school match as a 17-year-old to emerge as England's first global T20 superstar.
Critics raised doubts over his Test career after a chastening Ashes campaign last year -- when he scored 107 in four matches -- saw him dropped for the subsequent West Indies tour.
But none question his T20 batting prowess.
"No one is anywhere close to batting like @josbuttler in T20 cricket at the moment... Incredible," former England captain Michael Vaughan wrote on Twitter after his latest ton.
India's batting great Sachin Tendulkar suggested his name should be "Josh" -- a Hindi word which loosely translates as "energy".
And England fast bowler Jofra Archer tweeted: "Jos has a cheat code for batting."
Buttler made his England debut in a T20 match against India at Manchester in 2011.
Although he has made nine one-day international hundreds and was a key memeber of England's World Cup winning team in 2019, he has not quite matched his IPL form with the national T20 side.
He has made just one ton -- a curuscating 101 not out from 67 balls against Sri Lanka in last year's World Cup -- in 88 matches.
But such contrasts are not unprecedented: Kohli himself has five IPL centuries and none for India.
Buttler is nominally a wicketkeeper-batter for Lancashire - although his appearances for the county are increasingly rare - but he is not wearing the gloves for the Royals, who are paying $1.3 million for his services this IPL season.
His scores so far have been 35, 100, 70 not out, 13, 54, 103, 116, accumulating 32 sixes and 41 fours this season to wow the spectators.
And he is almost a double-century ahead of the next most prolific player in the tournament so far, Gujarat Titans skipper Hardik Pandya on 295 runs.
"He has just been exceptional for us," Royals director of cricket and head coach Kumar Sangakkara told reporters.
"The key to his innings is that he gives himself the best chance. He reads the game well, he picks his bowlers that he wants to attack and then he bats deep.
"There is nothing more that a side can ask more form a player like Jos. He has been absolutely brilliant."