Explosive England wicketkeeper-batsman had not set the Indian Premier League stage alight in the first two weeks of the tournament’s 10th season, but that was all to change on Thursday when he smashed a 37-ball 77 to help Mumbai Indians chase a seemingly daunting 199-run target with ease. Mumbai made a mockery of the target set by Kings XI Punjab, achieving it with more than four overs left.
Prior to this match, Buttler had got starts this season – three scores of over 25 – but never managed to convert. Faced with a big total, the 26-year-old was off from the word go, whacking Sandeep Sharma for six over mid-wicket in the first over of the chase. Buttler said he was relieved he finally came good for his team in their sixth match of the season.
“I have found good form so far in the tournament, but hadn’t really kicked on and made a big contribution,” he told iplt20.com. “So [I’m] delighted today to really go on and make that good score. It was a fantastic wicket, a small ground and so I’m delighted to go on. It was great fun out there.”
Asked to talk about his approach to chasing big totals, Buttler said, “It was very close actually to my natural way of batting. It is nice actually when the opposition scores big, [because] you know you have only one way to take the game on. Today, from the outset, I was really looking to play my shots and kick on so that’s a very natural way of batting – see ball, hit ball.”
Buttler was also all praise for his opening partner Parthiv Patel (37 off 18 balls), with whom he put on Mumbai’s highest partnership for the first wicket this season – 81 runs. “We both played our natural games,” Buttler said. “We complement each other well. He is a short left-hander, he looks to sit back and play square of the wicket and complements me with a different style at the other end. It is great fun to bat with a very calm guy. It is great that we managed to put a big partnership.”
Mumbai Indians did not lose their calm throughout the game, even when Punjab were batting and smacking their bowlers all around the park, Buttler said. KXIP opening batsman Hashim Amla struck his first century of the IPL (104 off 60 balls) to take his team to 198/4, but Buttler said Mumbai always knew that a target of 200 was within their reach because the wicket was great for batting.
“We knew that 200 was very much within our reach,” he said. “I think even when things were going, that is the ball was going past [our fielders] when we were bowling, we were actually staying calm because we knew that we can do that to the opposition with the bat as well.”
After the blistering start that the openers provided, Buttler said Mumbai aimed to cross the line with overs in hand in a bid to boost their net run-rate, which could prove crucial in getting them through to the playoffs.
“After the start that we got, we obviously got to a manageable task to score from there on,” he said. “We probably needed eight runs per over for [the remaining] 14 or 15 overs.We knew that we could keep going because we had lots of batters to come.So we thought [net] run-rate does come into it at some point in the tournament, and tonight to really kick on and try and win the game in less than 20 overs was really important.”