It was a strange Abu Dhabi pitch. It offered slow movements and turns in the evening, but did not buy much for spinners later in the night. Balls of various lengths, however, continued to deter batsmen.

However, there was no stopping Jose Butler on Monday night. On a surface where his captain Steven Smith – and all Chennai Super Kings batsmen – struggled, Butler chased down the Rajasthan Royals’ 126, scoring an unbeaten 70 off 48 balls to give his playoff chances a leg-up. made.

In the fifth over, Deepak Chahar and Josh Hazlewood knocked after the Royals top order with swing and test match length. Hazelwood then thought he had implicated Smith for the Duck after dipping one in the pad, but the replay detected an inside edge as the Super Kings review went in vain. Smith continued to cross the stumps, but the bowler refused to let him reach the leg side. His first run on his favorite leg side came off his 22nd ball and his first boundary in the 24th over.

Butler, however, needed just eight balls to find the boundary. When Ravindra Jadeja took a run at the middle stump, Butler extended his hand, and retaliated to the point for four runs. Then, in Hazlewood’s next over, he took a half-stride across the off stump, and pasted him at mid-on. Butler was showing what the Super Kings were missing: power, intention, innovation and clarity.

The legspin pair of Royals bowlers, especially Shreyas Gopal and Rahul Teotia, strangled the Super Kings, and MS Dhoni’s men found no way to upset them. Jadeja was promoted ahead of Kedar Jadhav to take on Gopal and Tewatia, but he scored only 10 out of 14 balls. However, Butler took a relatively weak link in the Super Kings invasion after Shardul Thakur and Piyush Chawla. He scored 48 off 27 balls and gave Smith the breathing space he needed.

“I think he came in with a really positive mindset and in the virtual press conference after the match Butler said that Smith took the game by playing his cricket shots.” “The ball was good and tough and his mindset was really positive. He made things easy for me at the other end and I managed to involve myself in his innings,” he said.

Certainly, Butler reminded everyone that he is a gun middle-order batsman, but, perhaps, there is still a case for the Royals that takes him back to the top and qualifies himself for the playoffs Gives better chance. In T20 cricket in the middle order, Butler has scored 140.75 and 171 runs at an average of 26.83. His strike rate and average as an opener stood at 151.75 and 40.12 in 62 innings.

In this IPL, some low scores for Butler and Robin Uthappa as an opener entice the team management to use Butler as a middle-order finisher – a role he has played in 50-over cricket. Is made Royals coach Andrew McDonald is also big on maintaining the match-up and left-right combination. So, they have topped Ben Stokes with Uthappa and look to Butler for the big finishing kick. Smith also compared Butler’s middle-order influence to Kieron Pollard and AB de Villiers.

“Jose is clearly an incredible player at the top, but I also believe that he has got the ability to do like AB de Villiers, Pollard and Hardik Pandya. They can work in a way that can do it at the back end. Can, ”Smith said.

“Those types of players on the back end make you win the game, so it’s a difficult one. I’ve heard that Jose likes to bat at the top, so that negotiation is difficult, but it provides such a great stability in the middle and power and The innovation that he has got is second to none. So, obviously we are lucky for a player like Jose and the ability he has got and his versatility in his batting as well. “

Dhoni, the original finisher, was probably influenced by Butler’s innings, he also handed over his yellow jersey from his 200th IPL game.