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Jos Buttler's jaw-dropping innings of 124 not out was one of the high points of an incomplete 2021 IPL season. Image Credit: Sportzpics for BCCI

Kolkata: The dust has still not quite settled down on IPL 2021 which was suspended earlier this month - with the entire bunch of Australian players, support staff and TV pundits still stuck in quarantine in Maldives. The three and-a-half weeks of action, however, had witnessed some unforgettable gems - with Jos Buttler’s breathtaking innings of unbeaten 124 against Sunrisers Hyderabad being certainly one of them.

The England vice-captain, who had been getting starts for Rajasthan Royals but not being able to get into the destructive avatar that he is famous for, tore apart the Hyderabad attack with 11 fours and eight sixes to score his first T20 hundred - and in a winning cause. However, Jos ‘bhai’ (an colloquial expression for brother attributed to him by Royals skipper Sanju Samson after that innings), surprised all during an interaction with the fans and media when he declared it was not his most satisfying innings in IPL.

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‘‘The most satisfying one has to be the one against Mumbai Indians during the 2018 edition at the Wankhede,’’ Buttler said, referring to a blazing 94 off 53 balls against a superior Mumbai attack with nine fours and five sixes which secured Royals a famous win. ‘‘This century, of course, was a satisfying one where I had a great partnership with Sanju. Before that, I was not satisfied with the way I was timing the ball and must thank Kumar (Sangakkara) for his tips,’’ said Buttler.

The webinar, titled ‘IPL 2021: Behind the Noise’ assembled some of the central characters of the Royals’ journey during the incomplete season in Buttler, Director of Cricket Sangakkara and Principal Owner Manoj Badale. Both Buttler and Sanga threw interesting insights about their life inside the bubble while all agreed that it was the right call to suspend action after players and support staff of a number of teams started testing positive for COVID-19.

One of the flipsides of the bubble, as both admitted, is that there is more of a family feel with the players and their families as they are not allowed to step out of the hotel. ‘‘The Royals, in the number of years that I have spent here, have always tried to provide a family feel. Having my own family in India this time also made a difference and getting a chance to spend my daughter’s birthday here would be my most memorable experience this time,’’ said Buttler.

I enjoyed being a part of it. It wasn’t an easy tournament - as getting the combination right with injuries to key players early on was a huge problem. However, we wanted to concentrate on the process and not the results

- Kumar Sangakkara, Director of Cricket, Rajasthan Royals

Asked to rate Samson’s performance as the new captain, Buttler said: ‘‘I enjoyed playing under Sanju, captaincy didn’t change him and his easygoing style. He was growing into the role when the tournament had to be called off.’’

Giving his take on what he felt was a ‘surreal’ experience, Sangakkara offered his condolences to young Chetan Sakariya - who lost his father to the virus. ‘‘Our thoughts are with him as he has had a terrible year (the young pace bowler lost his brother to an accident earlier),’’ said the Sri Lankan legend.

Asked to sum up his experience in a new role in the IPL, Sangakkara said: ‘‘I enjoyed being a part of it. Our job is to manage players, you try to listen to the players and each of them are different. It wasn’t an easy tournament - as getting the combination right with injuries to key players early on was a huge problem. However, we wanted to concentrate on the process and not the results.’’

Endorsing the decision to suspend the tournament, ‘Sanga’ said: ‘‘Our first priority was the well being of the players. At this point, it’s better to use all our energy and resources to combat the virus.’’