Rajasthan Royals threatened to waste a Jos Buttler batting masterclass before limping to a four-wicket win over Mumbai Indians on Saturday.

Quinton de Kock made 81 and Rohit Sharma 47 as Mumbai posted 187-5 at the Wankhede Stadium, a score that looked competitive until Buttler fired in Rajasthan's reply, smashing 89 from just 43 deliveries.

The England international allowed opening partner Ajinkya Rahane to do the early damage but the departure of his captain, caught for 37 when sweeping Krunal Pandya out to deep square leg, led to Buttler changing gears.

Alzarri Joseph suffered at the hands of the right-hander, conceding 28 runs in one over as the Royals' equation suddenly dropped to a run-a-ball rate.

Yet they made hard work of completing the job, losing four wickets in a hurry to give Mumbai hope before Shreyas Gopal got his side home with three balls to spare with a boundary off Hardik Pandya.

The Royals - who were without the injured Ben Stokes - eventually picked up just their second victory of the campaign, with Mumbai missing out on the chance to leapfrog over Kolkata Knight Riders into second place in the table.

 

A WEEK IS A LONG TIME IN THE IPL...

On April 6, Joseph claimed 6-12 on his Mumbai debut, the best bowling figures in the history of the Indian Premier League.

A week on from his record-breaking start in the competition, the West Indies paceman had a vastly different Twenty20 experience. His three overs in the game went for 53 runs, with Buttler ruining his figures.

The right-hander book-ended a pair of maximums with a quartet of fours in Joseph's last over, the bowler unable to find a way to stem the flow of boundaries despite changes in both his pace and length.

Buttler's quest to hit a seventh successive boundary resulted in his downfall, however, as he only picked out long on when trying to deposit Rahul Chahar over the rope.

 

FAST START, POWERFUL FINISH FOR MUMBAI

Rohit and De Kock shared an opening stand worth 96 for the home team, with the former back leading the team again after missing the victory over Kings XI Punjab due to injury.

South African De Kock hit four maximums before falling to Jofra Archer, who finished with figures of 3-39.

However, his departure set the scene for a late cameo from Hardik Pandya, the India all-rounder belting three sixes as he contributed an unbeaten 28 from just 11 deliveries.

His onslaught gave Mumbai a much-needed lift in the closing overs, though Buttler's belligerent hitting meant it was the Royals who came out on top in the end.

Ravichandran Ashwin says his "conscience is clear" and he cannot be branded a villain for 'Mankading' Jos Buttler.

Ashwin sparked outrage in the cricket fraternity when he whipped off the bails without warning Buttler during an Indian Premier League encounter between Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab last month.

Kings XI captain Ashwin defended his actions after his side went on to claim a controversial win and the India spinner maintains he has done nothing wrong.

"There is nothing to defend," Ashwin told Aaj Tak TV. "As I said in the press conference that day, it happened instinctively, it was not a plan that 'Buttler will go outside [the crease] and I have to get him'. Although he did do it four or five times.

"They didn't want to take risks against my bowling that day, so what they were doing was pushing the ball on the legside and trying to take twos.

"I saw that he'd done it four or five times, and it's there in the rules that if the batsman goes out of his crease, you can run him out. It's the batsman's responsibility to stay behind the crease.

"The most important thing for me is what is my conscience saying, and my conscience is clear. Those who know me well know that I will never do something illegal. You can't say that 'Ashwin is a villain because of this'. Because this is not my character trait.

"You don't tell someone who has hit a bowler for 30 runs in an over that he is not a good person. He will hit the bowler, that's part of the game. And whatever rule is there in the game, I took advantage of that. I'm not denying I did that, but that's the rule.

"If someone doesn't like it, and you think it doesn't fit into sportsmanship in cricket, then you should remove the rule."

Shreyas Gopal bamboozled struggling Royal Challengers Bangalore and Jos Buttler blasted a half-century as Rajasthan Royals got up and running in the Indian Premier League with a seven-wicket win.

There was more misery for Virat Kohli in his 100th game as RCB captain at Sawai Mansingh Stadium, where his side could only post 158-4 after Gopal took 3-12 from his four overs on Tuesday.

Gopal doubled his wicket tally for the tournament with a brilliant leg-spinning exhibition, dismissing Kohli, AB de Villiers and Shimron Hetmyer.

Parthiv Patel top scored with 67 from 41 balls for Bangalore, who were thrashed by Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday, but his first half-century of the 2019 IPL was not enough to prevent his side from being the only team without a victory.

The Royals, missing Sanju Samson due to a niggle, sealed their first two points after Buttler smashed 59 from 43 balls.

Yuzvendra Chahal (2-17) gave RCB hope, but Steve Smith made 38 and Rahul Tripathi capitalised on being dropped early in his innings to score an unbeaten 34, hitting a six to win it off the penultimate ball.

GOPAL PUTS RCB IN A SPIN

Kohli moved up to open for the second time in the tournament, but the skipper missed out in his landmark match as skipper.

Parthiv and Kohli put on 49 before Gopal claimed the huge wicket of the mercurial India captain, who was flummoxed by a ripper of a googly and bowled through the gate for 23.

De Villiers was caught and bowled in the tweaker's next over and he had a third wicket when Hetmyer was caught behind, reducing RCB to 73-3 midway through their innings.

It was left for Parthiv - who struck a six and nine fours - to lay the platform for a late flurry from debutant Marcus Stoinis (31 not out from 28) and Moeen Ali (18no off 9)

 

BUTTLER SERVES UP ANOTHER TREAT

Buttler failed twice after he was the victim of a Ravichandran Ashwin 'Mankad' but he was back in the groove at the top of the order.

The explosive wicketkeeper-batsman struck Navdeep Saini for back-to-back boundaries after Ajinkya Rahane was dropped by Kohli in the second over and did the same to Stoinis in his first over for his new franchise.

Buttler continued to rocket along, reaching his half-century from 38 balls with a glorious straight drive off England team-mate Moeen, who he also pulled for six before he struck the crafty Chahal - who also removed Rahane - to Stoinis at long-off.

 

RAHUL ENSURES RCB TRIP UP AGAIN

Smith was not at his fluent best, but used his experience to rotate the strike and score at over a run a ball.

Chahal should have had a third wicket when Umesh Yadav dropped Tripathi in the deep on nine before Smith hammered Mohammed Siraj for six. 

Smith fell off the final ball of the 19th over from Siraj, but with only five needed from the last over, Tripathi hooked Yadav over the ropes to win it in emphatic fashion.

Ben Stokes has weighed in on cricket's 'Mankad' debate, saying he could not be tempted to use the tactic - even in a hypothetical Cricket World Cup final meeting with Virat Kohli.

Ravichandran Ashwin prompted fury on Monday when he stopped his bowling action in an Indian Premier League match to stump the wandering Jos Buttler, giving the Rajasthan Royals batsman no warning.

Kings XI Punjab had previously had no answer to Buttler, who was 69 not out off 43 balls and was incensed by Ashwin's actions.

The India spinner came in for intense criticism, but he insisted he had done nothing wrong and dismissed references to "the spirit of the game".

Australia great Shane Warne kept the conversation going on social media and asked his Twitter followers what the reaction might have been if England all-rounder Stokes had similarly caught out India captain Kohli in the upcoming World Cup.

"If Ben Stokes did what Ashwin did to Virat Kohli, it would be OK?" Warne said to those defending Ashwin.

"I'm just very disappointed in Ashwin as I thought he had integrity and class. Kings lost a lot of supporters tonight - especially young boys and girls! I do hope the BCCI does something."

Having received numerous messages on the subject, Buttler's Royals and England team-mate Stokes took to his own Twitter account to respond.

"Hopefully I'm playing in the World Cup final and, if Virat Kohli is batting when I'm bowling, I would never ever ever ever ever ever ['Mankad' him]," he wrote.

"[I'm] just clarifying to the mentions I've received."

The Royals will look to bounce back from their opening defeat when they face Sunrisers Hyderabad on Friday, while the World Cup gets under way on May 30.

Ravichandran Ashwin defended his 'Mankad' of Jos Buttler as current and former players rounded on the Kings XI Punjab captain following a controversial win over Rajasthan Royals.

Buttler was 69 not out off 43 balls and seemingly steering the Royals to victory in their first game of the Indian Premier League season on Monday.

Kings XI, defending a total of 184-4, had no answer to the power and skill of the England wicketkeeper-batsman until Ashwin took matters into his own hands.

The India spinner paused midway through his action to whip off the bails without warning Buttler, who was fuming after turning around to see Ashwin appeal for a run out - which was given by the third umpire.

Rajasthan collapsed from 108-1 in the 13th over to finish on 170-9, but Ashwin said he had no regrets over the contentious game-changing incident.

"On my part it was very instinctive. It was not planned or anything like that. It is there within the rules of the game," Ashwin said when asked if he felt his actions where in the spirit of the game.

"I don't really understand where your spirt of the game comes from, because quite naturally if it's there in the rules it's there, so probably the rules need to go back and be sorted."

Royals head coach Paddy Upton stated: "I think R Ashwin's actions tonight speak for him and represent him. When I looked in the eyes of his team-mates, I'm not sure it represented his team-mates.

"I think we'll leave it up to the IPL fans to decide if that's the sort of thing they want to see and we'll leave it up to the cricket world to judge R Ashwin's actions tonight. But for us, we're certainly here just to play cricket and entertain the fans and be good role models for the people who love the game."

Shane Warne and Eoin Morgan were among those to condemn Ashwin's actions in no uncertain terms. 

Warne tweeted: "So disappointed in @ashwinravi99 as a Captain & as a person. All captains sign the #IPL wall & agree to play in the spirit of the game. RA had no intention of delivering the ball - so it should have been called a dead ball. Over to u BCCI - this a not a good look for the #IPL."

The legendary spinner added: "Why do such a disgraceful & low act like that tonight ? You must live with yourself & FYI - it’s too late to say sorry Mr Ashwin. You will be remembered for that low act."

England white-ball skipper Morgan tweeted: "I can't believe what I'm seeing!! @IPL Terrible example to set for young kids coming through. In time I think Ashwin will regret that."

Ravichandran Ashwin subjected a furious Jos Buttler to another 'Mankading' to derail the Rajasthan Royals as Kings XI Punjab went on to claim a controversial 14-run Indian Premier League win.

Buttler looked to be on course for a century when he was unbeaten on 69 from 43 balls after the Royals were set 185 to win in Jaipur on Monday.

Ashwin took matters into his own hands by whipping off the bails before going through with his delivery in the 13th over, with Buttler out of his ground.

Buttler was at least warned by Sri Lanka spinner Sachithra Senanayake when he was the victim of a 'Mankad' in 2014, but Kings XI captain Ashwin did not appear to sound a warning before what was a pivotal moment. 

The Royals fell to pieces after Buttler departed, Steve Smith dismissed for 20 on his IPL return when KL Rahul took a stunning catch as they collapsed from 108-1 in the 13th over to fall short on 170-9.

Chris Gayle earlier top scored with a magnificent 79 from only 47 balls, becoming the fastest batsman to 4,000 IPL runs, and Sarfaraz Khan made a rapid 46 as Kings XI posted 184-4.

 

GAYLE FORCE AS STRONG AS EVER

Gayle tormented the England bowlers during the limited-overs series in the Caribbean and he was at it again on the big stage.

The opener brought up a 33-ball half-century by casually freeing his arms to clatter the expensive Jaydev Unadkat for six after dispatching the seamer for three consecutive boundaries in a 12th over that went for 19.

Gayle also tucked into Ben Stokes, smashing him for six over long-off and another two boundaries in an eventful over before hooking the England all-rounder straight to Rahul Tripathi.

Sarfaraz then came to the party, finding the ropes six times before finishing the innings by slapping a slower ball from Stokes over midwicket for a maximum.

 

BUTTLER FUMES AFTER SERVING UP A TREAT

Buttler was in full flow when his innings was brought to a hugely controversial end by Ashwin.

The opener could hardly believe what he was seeing when he turned round too late to see the India spinner run him out.

Buttler was seething after the third umpire confirmed he had to go and Ashwin was in no mood to withdraw his appeal.

The England Test vice-captain hit two sixes and 10 fours before his scintillating knock was brought to a contentious end.

 

RAHUL STUNNER SPARKS COLLAPSE AS CURRAN MAKES AMENDS

The Royals were still in a great position to make a winning start when Smith joined Sanju Samson at the crease, needing 77 to win from seven overs with eight wickets in hand. 

Smith showed no signs of being troubled by his elbow when he nonchalantly flicked Curran for six, but KL Rahul held an outstanding catch on the run in the deep to remove the former Australia captain. 

That gave Curran - who had been carted all over the park - a first IPL wicket and he had a second in the same over when Samson (30) was taken by Ashwin.

Rajasthan lost seven wickets for just 16 runs in less than three overs after being in cruise control, Mujeeb Ur Rahman taking 2-31 with Stokes among the batsmen to miss out.

England captain Eoin Morgan labelled Jos Buttler a "champion racehorse" after an incredible one-day international win over West Indies on Wednesday.

Buttler smashed 150 off 77 balls with 13 fours and 12 sixes and Morgan also scored a century to guide England to 418-6 in the fourth ODI.

The Windies threatened to claim a remarkable win in their chase, Chris Gayle's 162 off 97 giving them hope before they fell short, suffering a 29-run loss to go 2-1 down in the series.

Buttler earned praise from his captain after scoring his seventh ODI century with his highest score in international cricket.

"Collectively we batted brilliantly and it brought the best out of all of us. [Jonny] Bairstow and [Alex] Hales got us off to a fantastic start and we kicked on from there," Morgan said.

"Jos Buttler is built like a champion racehorse and when he gets into his stride he's difficult to stop. Watching him in full flow was brilliant."

The Windies' 389 was the third highest total by a team batting second in ODI history, but Darren Bravo (61), Carlos Brathwaite (50) and Ashley Nurse (43) were unable to go on like Gayle, Buttler and Morgan did.

Mark Wood (4-60) did most of the damage for England and Gayle rued not lasting beyond the 35th over for his team.

"I didn't know what was going to happen. Normally when chasing a big total, you give yourself less overs to get in," he told Sky Sports.

"It was a good wicket and once you get momentum as a batter, you are going to get runs.

"Wood bowled well. With his pace, he's always going to be somebody to be wary of. After losing two quick wickets, I said we had to build a partnership but the shot I played in the end was a bit reckless.

"If I had batted deeper, who knows what might have happened?"

Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan bludgeoned scintillating centuries as England hit a record 24 sixes to post their third-highest one-day international total against West Indies in Grenada. 

West Indies captain Jason Holder must have been questioning his decision to field first as the tourists made a blistering start at St George's in the fourth match of the series. 

Jonny Bairstow (56) and Alex Hales (82) laid the platform with a century stand in only 13.5 overs before Buttler and Morgan - who became the first England player to reach 6,000 ODI runs - dished out brutal treatment. 

Buttler made his highest one-day score as he smashed his way to 150 from only 77 balls, clearing the ropes 12 times and also hitting 13 fours, his boundary blitz helping him go from 50 to 100 in only 15 deliveries. 

Morgan also put on a show - making 103 - as the captain and Buttler put on 204 for the fourth wicket in just 20.2 overs, with England going past 400 for the fourth time in the 50-over format. 

England took 154 off last 10 overs as they eye a 2-1 lead with one match remaining, Buttler fittingly breaking the world record for maximums in an innings - set by their opponents in the first ODI in Barbados - when he smashed Carlos Brathwaite over deep midwicket in the final over. 

Skipper Holder was taken for 88 from seven overs, while leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo did not return to the attack after going for 43 from four overs. 

Dawid Malan and Sam Billings will replace the rested Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler for England's Twenty20 series against West Indies, while Jason Roy will also miss the three matches as he returns home for the birth of his first child.

Roy made a spectacular 123 on Wednesday as England chased down a target of 361 with remarkable ease in the first of five one-day internationals against the Windies.

However, the opener will fly back to the UK after the final ODI, while Stokes and Buttler will be given a brief break ahead of a hectic period featuring the Cricket World Cup and a home Ashes series.

Malan and Billings are the beneficiaries of that decision, both men returning to England's squad for the first time since the tour of Australia and New Zealand in early 2018.

In quotes reported by the Guardian, national selector Ed Smith rubbished suggestions the move to rest Stokes and Buttler was linked to their upcoming participation in the Indian Premier League.

"That's not the case. I have not favoured franchise cricket over internationals," he said. "The strong recommendation of the head coach [Trevor Bayliss] was that he would like to rest these two players and I said, 'that’s fine by me'.

"There's an incredible period of cricket coming up … I would view it as an unusual set of circumstances and as us responding to them in the best possible interests of English cricket."

St Lucia will host the opening T20 between West Indies and England on March 4, before two subsequent contests in Saint Kitts and Nevis.

 

England T20 squad: Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Billings, Tom Curran, Joe Denly, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, David Willey, Mark Wood.

Ben Stokes made the most of a remarkable second chance as his unbeaten 62 inspired England's fightback on day one of the third and final Test against West Indies in St Lucia on Saturday.

The all-rounder had reached 52 when he clubbed a return catch to Alzarri Joseph and was all the way back in the dressing room when replays revealed the bowler had over-stepped.

Stokes returned to the fray - switching places with Jonny Bairstow, who had been on his way out to the middle - and along with Jos Buttler (67 not out), guided the tourists to 231-4 at stumps at the Darren Sammy National Stadium.

That represented an impressive recovery from England, who, at 2-0 down in the series and having been put into bat, were toiling badly once again at 107-4 when captain Joe Root was dismissed in soft fashion for 15 shortly before tea.

But Stokes and Buttler came together for an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 124 as two of England's traditionally aggressive batsmen, perhaps in light of recent criticism of the side's approach, reined in their natural game to guide their team to a strong position.

England recalled Keaton Jennings after he was dropped for the 10-wicket defeat in Antigua, but it was an unhappy return for the opener, who ought to have been out twice before he was removed for a painstaking eight from 43 balls.

West Indies opted not to review when he was trapped in front by Kemar Roach, whose anguish was increased two balls later when Roston Chase dropped a chance at slip.

But the introduction of Keemo Paul - replacing suspended captain Jason Holder - paid immediate dividends as Jennings drove loosely at his first delivery and nicked off.

Paul struck again soon after lunch, Rory Burns falling plumb lbw for 29 to a ball that was crashing into the middle of middle - the Windies needing a review to overturn umpire Kumar Dharmasena's not-out call. 

Joe Denly (20) fell in the next over, pinned by Shannon Gabriel, and England were in strife when Root wafted at a wide ball from Joseph and nicked behind.

Stokes survived an lbw shout on umpire's call early in his innings before he and Buttler set about mounting a recovery, bringing up their respective fifties from 84 and 94 deliveries.

Between those milestones, it looked as though their union had been ended by Joseph's superb catch in his follow-through, only for Stokes to be called back to the middle - a welcome rub of the green for an England side that has been a distant second-best in this series.

West Indies captain Jason Holder was ecstatic after scoring a stunning double century against England in the first Test.

Holder made an unbeaten 202 as the Windies took complete control in Bridgetown on Friday, setting England 628 for victory.

The all-rounder was predictably delighted with his highest Test score, with the tourists reaching 56-0 – needing another 572 runs – at stumps on day three.

"To score a double hundred in front of your home crowd is a very pleasing feeling," Holder said.

"I was ecstatic. It was a dream come true. My friends and family were here to enjoy it, as I really wanted to achieve this from the very start of my career."

England were left in huge trouble in the Test after being bowled out for 77 in response to the Windies' 289 in the first innings.

Jos Buttler said his side had been given a "reality check" during the series opener.

"With the bat we have fallen well below [expectations]. Our aim is to be the number one side in the world and that was nowhere near good enough," he said.

"We have had a good run of games, but when playing abroad it is about adapting to conditions.

"We have to be better at coming through tough situations when guys are bowling well. It is a good reality check as a side about where we are at."

Rory Burns (39) and Keaton Jennings (11) will resume for England on day four.

Brendon McCullum finally rediscovered his form in the Big Bash League with a half-century as Brisbane Heat defeated Sydney Thunder by 15 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis method.

Ashton Turner's late onslaught was in vain as Sydney Thunder secured a dramatic one-run Big Bash League victory over Perth Scorchers following another Jos Buttler half-century.

Buttler raised his bat for the third time in the tournament, top-scoring with 55 in the Thunder's 142-6 after putting on 82 with Callum Ferguson for the second wicket at Spotless Stadium on Wednesday.

It looked inevitable that the Thunder would claim a third win after back-to-back defeats when the Scorchers lost four wickets in 15 balls, slumping to 54-5.

Captain Turner threatened to pull off an unlikely second win for the struggling three-time champions, but his unbeaten 60 from 36 deliveries was not enough to deny the Thunder.

The Scorchers needed 20 to win from the last over and although Daniel Sams gave them every chance with two wides and a full toss which Turner dispatched for one of two fours in the first four balls, the skipper could not find the boundary he needed off the final delivery.

 

BUTTLER SERVES UP ANOTHER TREAT, ROOT FAILS AGAIN

Buttler led from the front again for the Thunder with another enterprising knock at the top of the order.

The England wicketkeeper-batsman went through his repertoire of strokes, including a reverse swipe for four to reach a run-a-ball half-century.

Buttler also scooped Jason Behrendorff for six, but fell in bizarre fashion clattering his stumps with his bat attempting a switch hit off the economical Jhye Richardson (1-19).

Joe Root is still yet to make an impact, the England Test captain making just five before playing on sweeping Ashton Agar, who also removed the clean-striking Ferguson for 42 from only 30 balls.

 

AHMED SPARKS COLLAPSE, WATSON TAKES STUNNER

The Scorchers found runs hard to come by in their chase, but they were still in with a good chance of getting home at 50-1 in the ninth over with wickets in hand.

That was until Fawad Ahmed snared Michael Klinger leg before to spark a middle-order capitulation and Cameron Bancroft fell in the same fashion to Jonathan Cook for 19 in his second match after serving a ban for ball-tampering.

Shane Watson took a stunning one-handed slip catch to see the back of Agar for a duck and give Ahmed (2-22) a second wicket.

The spinner was celebrating again after running out Hilton Cartwright with a direct hit to leave the Scorchers teetering.

 

SKIPPER FALLS SHORT AFTER TURNING THE TIDE

It looked inconceivable that the Scorchers could chase down a modest target after losing their way so badly but Turner and Will Bosisto (23 from 21) kept them in with a sniff.

They needed 86 from the last eight overs and 43 with just three remaining, but Turner took 10 from the last two balls of the 18th over from Chris Green to get it down to 28 needed from 12.

Just eight runs came from the penultimate over from Sam Rainbird, taking the pressure off Sams - or so it seemed.

Turner dispatched a slower ball to the leg-side boundary and hit a poor fourth ball for four before Sams sent down back-to-back wides, but Turner was unable to make him pay as he could only take four off the final two balls.

Captain Matthew Wade led from the front as Hobart Hurricanes defeated Sydney Thunder to take over top spot in the Big Bash League.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Wade made 85 from 49 deliveries to help the undefeated Hurricanes overhaul their opponents' score of 193-6 and make it three wins from three.

George Bailey produced a late cameo following the departure of his skipper - taking 22 runs off the penultimate over - to see the hosts over the line with seven wickets and five balls to spare at Blundstone Arena.

Jos Buttler had earlier made 89 - the highest score in this season's competition - for previously unbeaten Sydney, who had led the table going into Friday's fixture.

But, having successfully defended sizeable totals in wins over Melbourne Stars and Sydney Sixers, the Thunder struggled to contain the Hurricanes, not aided by dropped catches in the field and costly no-balls.

 

OPENERS SET THE PLATFORM

Wade combined with D'Arcy Short in an opening stand worth 120 before a mix-up gifted Sydney a wicket at the start of the 13th over, the latter run out having made 58 from 39 deliveries.

Still, the setback did not deter the Hurricanes, with their skipper registering a second successive BBL half-century to keep his team on track.

Sam Rainbird claimed two wickets in the 18th over, following up the dismissal of the well-set Wade - who was caught at third man by Joe Root - by clean bowling Ben McDermott (22), but Bailey's late blitz finished the job.

 

BUTTLER SERVES UP ANOTHER TREAT

Having hit 63 in the Sydney derby last time out, England international Buttler blasted four sixes and eight fours. A century appeared possible until he planted a full toss back to bowler Jofra Archer midway through the 20th over.

Chris Green weighed in with an unbeaten 26 in the closing stages, helping the Thunder set a new benchmark for the highest team score in the 2018-19 BBL campaign.

That was until Hobart's reply, of course, as the Hurricanes - who lost to Adelaide Strikers in last season's final - came out on top in a high-scoring encounter to move two points clear at the summit.

Jos Buttler was the star of the show as Sydney Thunder beat city rivals Sydney Sixers by 21 runs in the Big Bash League on Monday, despite a fine all-round effort from Tom Curran.

England star Buttler thumped six fours and three maximums on his way to 63 from 37 balls at the top of the order.

The Thunder lost their way somewhat after Buttler's dismissal in the 12th over, stumbling to 169-9 as Curran returned 3-24 from four impressive overs and Steve O'Keefe chipped in with 2-27.

However, the Sixers collapsed alarmingly in reply, Fawad Ahmed's three wickets leaving them in disarray at 56-6 after nine overs.

Curran again did his best to turn things around, compiling 62 off 40 balls and sharing 88 for the seventh wicket with Sean Abbott (35 off 28).

Yet the former was dismissed at the end of the penultimate over with 26 runs still needed and the Sixers ultimately finished well short of their target on 148-9.

PLAY IT AGAIN, SAMS

Buttler and Curran may grab the headlines, but Daniel Sams delivered another excellent performance for the Thunder.

Having made 34 and taken 3-5 in his side's opening match against the Melbourne Stars, the all-rounder again contributed significantly with bat and ball on Monday.

He was the only Thunder batsman to shine after Buttler's exit, smashing 28 from just 11 balls, and then chipped in with another three scalps - including Sixers skipper Moises Henriques.

As a result, Sams can celebrate Christmas as the leading wicket-taker in the BBL.

ABBOTT GOES THE DISTANCE

Abbott's admirable defiance in the Sixers' innings came after he had endured a dismal time of things with the ball.

The seamer had 1-18 after two overs, but he was then clobbered for 19 in his third - Sams doing the bulk of the damage - and finished with the painful figures of 1-48 from four.

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