Buttler returns to haunt Indians as Royals reign in Mumbai
Jos Buttler maintained his stunning run of form with the bat in the Indian Premier League as Rajasthan Royals eased to a seven-wicket win over Mumbai Indians.
Opener Buttler blasted 94 not out - his fifth successive half-century in the competition - to help the Royals cruise past his former franchise's total of 168-6 with two overs to spare.
The England international's destructive hitting boosted his current team's play-off hopes; they have now leapfrogged over their opponents into fifth place in the standings, though their negative net run-rate is a concern.
The result also means Chennai Super Kings have qualified without bowling a ball, joining the table-topping Sunrisers Hyderabad in the knockout stages.
As for Mumbai, the disappointing performance at the Wankhede Stadium puts paid to a three-game winning streak, leaving the defending champions on the outside of the top four heading into the closing stages of the regular season.
BUTTLER DOES IT AGAIN
For the second successive game, Buttler finished up narrowly shy of a recording his maiden century in the shortest format.
The right-hander - who has been one of the major catalysts in Mumbai's turnaround since his promotion up the order - had made an unbeaten 95 from 60 deliveries in his side's four-wicket triumph over the Super Kings.
He faced just the 53 balls during his knock on Sunday, clearing the rope five times while also hitting nine fours, as he overcame the early loss of opening partner D'Arcy Short to dismantle his old team-mates.
Buttler's hopes of a century were dashed by team-mate Sanju Samson, who blasted back-to-back sixes off Hardik Pandya to rush the Royals towards their target.
While Samson perished with the finishing line in sight, Buttler completed the job in style, ending the same Pandya over with another maximum to leave the India all-rounder finished with expensive final figures of 2-52.
INDIANS SLOW UP AFTER FAST START
Pandya had earlier made 36 from 21 balls with the bat for Mumbai, yet the Indians failed to build on an opening stand worth 87 between Suryakumar Yadav (38) and Evin Lewis.
The home team lost five wickets for 44 runs, including captain Rohit Sharma for a first-ball duck, as they wasted a platform to post an above-par total on a sluggish surface.
All-rounders Jofra Archer (2-16) and Ben Stokes (2-26) both impressed for the Royals, though it was Dhawal Kulkarni who claimed the key wicket of Lewis, the West Indies international caught by Samson for 60 after slicing a drive out to deep point.
Pandya picked up the pace with a plethora of late boundaries, including a hat-trick of sixes in one Jaydev Unadkat over, but his late onslaught was overshadowed by Buttler's brilliance in Rajasthan's reply.