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Cricket news - Buttler provides stability in the middle order: Smith

Jos Buttler showed his versatility as a batsman to power Rajasthan Royals to a crucial seven-wicket victory

Jos Buttler showed his versatility as a batsman to power Rajasthan Royals to a crucial seven-wicket victory

Jos Buttler showed his versatility as a batsman by composing a 48-ball unbeaten 70 to power Rajasthan Royals to a crucial seven-wicket victory over Chennai Super Kings in the IPL 2020 in Abu Dhabi.

On a slow wicket, where the ball was stopping on the batsman, Buttler and Steven Smith shared an undefeated stand of 98 to seal the deal for RR. Smith praised Buttler's innings and also said that he looked to rotate the strike, so that the wicketkeeper-batsman could play the role of the aggressor. "Obviously those wickets [the first three] weren't ideal. The pitch was a little bit stoppy so it was just about trying to get ourselves in, form a partnership," Smith noted in the press conference.

"I know that if I am going to be batting with Jos, Jos is going to be scoring at a good rate. He hits the ball hard and into gaps. He played some really good cricket shots tonight. So for me, it was just about being busy, getting him on strike and ticking it over. We were only chasing 120-odd, so there was no need to take any big risks, just form a partnership and it'll get easier. Then we were able to put our foot down a little bit towards the end and get the victory without getting it too close towards the end. Happy with the two points," he added.

Smith observed that Buttler came out to bat with a positive mindset and that made the difference. Incidentally, before the match against CSK, Buttler had scored just one fifty in the tournament. "I think he just came out with a really positive mindset. Took the game on by playing his shots, hit the ball nice and hard and just his mindset was really positive. Made things a lot easier for me at the other end. I was able to get myself into my innings and we could afford to do that chasing only 120-odd. It was a nice positive, and it was really nice to bat with Jos."

Buttler is renowned for his ability to give quick starts at the top of the order in T20s. Smith, on his part, said that Buttler is a versatile batsman, and from RR's perspective, he provides stability in the middle order. "It's an interesting one. Jos is obviously an unbelievable player at the top. I also believe he's got capabilities to do what AB de Villiers, and Pollards and Hardik Pandyas, guys like that can do at the back end.

"I think those kinds of players win you games at the backend so it's a difficult one. I know Jos loves batting up top as well. That conversation is a difficult one. But he provides such great stability in the middle. The power and innovation he's got is second to none so we're very lucky to have a player like Jos and the ability he's got in our line-up and the versatility he's got in his batting as well."

RR's victory was set up by the bowlers, with Rahul Tewatia and Shreyas Gopal giving away just 30 runs in eight overs between them. Smith was pleased with the duo's performance and pointed out that the legspinning duo mixed it up by using the googly and also bowled the right kind of lengths for the track. "They bowled beautifully in the middle. They just squeezed, bowled really good lengths and changed it up with their googlies and leg spinners and were just magnificent. Just the areas they bowled... they didn't let the batters off at all. There were no free hits or step hits. They made them work for every run on a wicket that was a little bit stopy and slow."

Stephen Fleming, CSK's coach, said that Buttler played an 'exceptional' innings on a tricky pitch. He also added that the dew factor went against CSK's bowlers. "Jos Buttler played an exceptional innings, he was a lot better than the rest of the batters who found it difficult. The tracks are not really getting dry or slow in the second innings, there was some dew again. Even at Sharjah the other day, it got a little bit easier in the evening."

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