When the going gets tough, Jos Buttler gets going. At a time when the Rajasthan Royals desperately needed a turnaround in the Indian Premier League (IPL), the England batsman stepped up to guide the team to a four-wicket victory against Mumbai Indians.
The 28-year-old Buttler, who failed to convert good starts in the last few outings, returned to form with a whirlwind knock of 89 in 43 balls as Royals chased down a mammoth target of 188 at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday, with three balls to spare.
As it happened| Highlights: Buttler stars as Rajasthan pulls off nervy win
With the required run-rate over nine right from the offset, Buttler and Ajinkya Rahane put on 60 for the opening wicket. Rahane was caught by Suryakumar Yadav at deep mid-wicket off Krunal Pandya for a 21-ball 37 but his dismissal did not deter Buttler who went on a rampage in the middle overs.
The Englishman struck eight boundaries and seven sixes, collecting 28 off Mumbai’s young Antiguan recruit, Alzarri Joseph's over as the latter leaked 53 in three overs.
Buttler added 87 for the third wicket with Sanju Samson — he was trapped in front by Jasprit Bumrah for 31 — to keep the Royals on track. He was eventually dismissed for 89, holing out to Suryakumar Yadav at long-off. From 147/2, Rajasthan slipped to 174/6 losing Samson, Rahul Tripathi, Steve Smith and Liam Livingstone in quick succession to give Mumbai a ray of hope.
But youngster Shreyas Gopal (not out at 13) kept his cool to take Rajasthan over the line. With the side ‘resting’ Ben Stokes, it was important for the lower-order to show steel and Gopal and Krishnappa Gowtham ensured that the side crossed the line.
While Royals shrugged off a middle-order fumbling, it turned out to be a disappointing day for Mumbai Indians. Despite Quinton de Kock slamming a belligerent 81, the side failed to defend the total. While the strike bowlers conceded runs, the side dropped crucial catches in the end to worsen things.
Put in to bat, openers Quinton de Kock and Rohit Sharma put on a 96-run opening stand to put the opposition bowlers on the backfoot.
But things slowed down after both Rohit -- 47 off 32 balls -- and de Kock departed. Rajasthan made a strong comeback, removing Surya Kumar Yadav (16) and Kieron Pollard (6) to put the pressure back on the host.
Hardik Pandya's 28-run cameo at the death propelled Mumbai to 187 but it wasn't enough in the end as Rohit’s 100th match as captain for Mumbai Indians ended on a gloomy note.
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