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Jos Buttler's resurgence and Sam Curran's defence: The week in review for England's players in the IPL

Dawid Malan could be set for a longer run while Eoin Morgan needs to catalyse his team into action

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller
Sam Curran has put in some exceptional defensive performances with the ball  •  BCCI/IPL

Sam Curran has put in some exceptional defensive performances with the ball  •  BCCI/IPL

Most of England's players continued to impress, some found a new lease of form and others didn't have much of an impact. We take a look at how England's players have performed for their teams in this past week.
More unobtrusive excellence from a liberated player. Moeen picked off 15 free-flowing runs from eight balls against the Sunrisers Hyderabad to ensure there would be no loss of momentum after a 129-run opening stand between Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis, then he lumped five sixes in a 36-ball 58 against the Mumbai Indians, which ought to have been ample until Kieron Pollard got busy in an extraordinary 219-run chase.
In between whiles, his offspin has been a quietly vital weapon in MS Dhoni's armoury - three more overs this week, including an exceptional piece of matching-up against Mumbai: one over, one run, one wicket as the dangerous Quinton de Kock chipped a return catch into his midriff. Any more of this, and England will have no option but to take note for the T20 World Cup.
To borrow a phrase from Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, Sam Curran is a f***ing mentality giant. Nothing else can explain his insatiable lust for the sharp end of IPL combat - never better exemplified than his heroics against Mumbai, which could have won the game twice over had the support been there from his team-mates, with the ball and in the field alike. With Pollard running riot in his extraordinary 87 not out from 34 balls, Curran nailed his yorkers with extraordinary poise, prising out Krunal Pandya to a plumb lbw while conceding just two runs in his third over, the 17th of the innings.
Then, in arguably an even more pronounced display of cojones, he battled back from being bashed for back-to-back sixes in the 19th over to claim two for three in his next four balls. Had Pollard not been on strike with 16 left to get, it would have been the game's decisive contribution. As if that wasn't enough fun for one week, he secured intra-squad bragging rights in the England camp by bouncing out the Sunrisers' Jonny Bairstow.
It's a debate that has been in slight abeyance since the injury to Ben Stokes, but if there were any lingering doubts about Jos Buttler's value as a T20 opener, they were emphatically scotched against the Sunrisers this week. It has taken him the small matter of 282 matches to reach his maiden 20-over century, but he made it worth the wait in a brutal 124 from 64 balls.
It's true, there are few players in the world with Buttler's finishing powers - his last 74 runs came from an eye-popping (and wrist-cocking 25 balls) as he slammed sixes at will with that inimitable crack of the bottom hand - but in toughing it out at the top to reach a 39-ball fifty, he also laid himself a platform that lesser players might not have managed. He showed the early glimpses of a return to his best form in making 41 from 32 balls against Mumbai, before being done in flight by Rahul Chahar. But in setting up a vital win that has vaulted the Royals from the bottom of the table to fifth, Buttler may have hit top gear at the perfect moment for his injury-plagued side.
It's been a pretty terrible week for the Sunrisers. You suspect that the fall-out from the axing of David Warner as captain has only just begun, particularly after Sunday's crushing loss to the Royals. But Bairstow's form at the top of the order has been one of their few saving graces this season, even if he struggled to produce his best this week. Sam Curran had his number against Chennai. It was always asking a lot for Bairstow to match Buttler's impact in the clash with the Royals, even if his 30 from 21 balls seemed to have got his side on the right track until he holed out to long-on. If the Sunrisers are to haul themselves off the base of the table, Bairstow and his new captain Kane Williamson may need to strike up a bromance to rival what he once enjoyed with his deposed leader.
Harsh words were spoken after the Kolkata Knight Riders slumped to their fifth defeat in seven against the Delhi Capitals on Thursday, with coach Brendon McCullum particularly critical of a becalmed top order that had creaked along at barely a run-a-ball in the first 10 overs of their innings - a platform that didn't exactly allow Morgan to die wondering as he gave himself room off his second ball and slapped a flat slog to long-off for a duck. Nevertheless, it was another non-contribution from a skipper who's struggling to get his no-fear message across to his players.
At least he can take personal credit for KKR's second win of the campaign earlier in the week, after coming in at 17 for 3 in the third over against the Punjab Kings, and anchoring a chase of 124 with 47 not out from 40 balls. Therein lies a truth about Morgan's preferred approach to T20 cricket. If you're going to malfunction at the top, at least do so quickly enough for your team-mates to bail you out.
… which brings us to Malan's long-awaited T20 bow, a run-a-ball 26 for the Kings against the Capitals that inadvertently encapsulated all of the concerns for England's incumbent No.3. His low-octane approach often comes off in the closing overs, but when it doesn't, it adds up to a whole lot of not a lot - on this occasion, a Kings' scoreline of 87 for 3 in the 14th over that never looked like being enough, even after Mayank Agarwal had turned on the afterburners in a brilliant 99 from 58 balls. Malan got his chance due to KL Rahul's untimely bout of appendicitis, which suggests it may not be a one-off. His next few outings could be very instructive, especially given Moeen's polar opposite approach in a similar role.
Jordan has had to bide his time for the Kings, but his introduction to the line-up for three matches this week has been a qualified success. He played a low-key but vital role in the Kings' victory over the Royal Challengers Bangalore, serving up his four overs for 31 including a purposeful post-powerplay over that built on an aggressive opening gambit from the seamers, while against KKR, he was the only batter in the entire line-up to strike at above 100, as he thumped 30 from 18 balls from No. 8 in an otherwise flat-lining innings.
The four remaining England players at this year's IPL - Chris Woakes, Sam Billings, Tom Curran and Jason Roy - have spent another week bench-warming, although the one who might be closest to a call-up is Roy, given that Warner is out in the cold for the Sunrisers, and that the temptation to reunite his mighty white-ball partnership with Bairstow must be compelling. Not just yet… Manish Pandey got the gig against the Royals, but watch this space.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket