It is Indian Premier League (IPL) season, and the T20 drama has hit a fever pitch. After 32 matches in the 2022 edition, three centuries have been scored – two by Rajasthan Royals (RR) Jos Buttler and one by Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) skipper KL Rahul. Shubman Gill, Faf du Plessis, Shivam Dube, and David Miller have come close, reaching the 90s. Meanwhile, recently former England captain Michael Vaughan sparked a new debate when he claimed that Buttler is the best T20 batter in the world. He made the observation after the England batter smacked 103 off 61 balls against the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). While Buttler’s knock was a special one, without doubt, Rahul, Babar Azam, and Mohammad Rizwan fans did not agree with the former England skipper’s claim. In the wake of Vaughan’s statement, we try and compare how the four T20 superstars compare against each other.
1. Jos Buttler: The England star has the experience of 304 T20 matches in which he has scored 7710 runs at an average of 33.37 and a strike rate of 144.59. In his illustrious career, the 31-year-old hundred has cracked four hundreds and 52 fifties. Three of his four tons have come in the IPL and one during the T20 World Cup in the UAE last season. Buttler is unbelievably destructive at the top of the order. He can clear the field with ease using his power and is equally adept at finding the gaps, while threading the fielders. Even when he hits across the line, he ensures that he watches the ball closely on to the bat. This is one of the big secrets of his success and consistency. As former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar rightly said, Buttler has not been given enough credit for his amazing performances, especially in the T20 format.
2. KL Rahul: Team India’s limited-overs vice-captain, KL Rahul, has featured in 179 T20 matches during his career and has amassed 6007 at an average of 43.52 and a strike rate of 138.12. The elegant batter, who recently turned 30, has five hundreds and 50 half-centuries to his credit in the T20 format. Three of his five tons have come in the IPL, while two have been scored in Indian colours. The beauty of KL’s T20 batting is that he can score at a strike rate as destructive as anyone in the world on his day, and too by resorting to proper cricketing strokes. He is one of the rare talents, who do not believe in slogging, even in the mad-dash T20 version. However, if there is one criticism of Rahul, it is the fact that, in some innings, he slows down needlessly. This ploy of his hurt his previous franchise Punjab Kings (PBKS), on a few occasions. It remains to be seen whether Rahul has overcome that slight weak point.
3. Babar Azam: The Pakistan captain has played 219 T20 matches to date and has scored 7880 runs at an average of 45.28 and a strike rate of 128.08. Babar Azam has struck six hundreds and 67 fifties. One of his centuries has been scored in Pakistan colours. His numbers prove that he is a very good T20 batter, without a doubt. In fact, he is an excellent all-round player. But speaking specifically about the T20 format, he scores at a slightly slower pace as compared to Buttler and Rahul and thus falls behind a bit in the race. He also isn’t as destructive with his stroke-making. When it comes to Tests, though, Azam is undoubtedly the superior player.
4. Mohammad Rizwan: Pakistan’s wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan has played 180 T20 matches and has scored 4634 runs at an average of 41.74 and a strike rate of 125.07. He has one hundred, which was scored for Pakistan, and 36 fifties to his credit. Rizwan has been consistency personified in the T20 format over the last year. He has played some fantastic knocks. However, like Azam, his strike rate is also under 130, which means he doesn’t strike fear among opposition bowlers.
The verdict: With the Pakistan duo out of the race, the clash is between Buttler and Rahul. The Englishman pips the Indian because he possesses an X-factor, and has the ability to drub oppositions into submission. Rahul, in contrast, believes in killing softly, which sometimes backfires.