Jos Buttler targets series win
Jos Buttler is delighted to have registered his maiden international half-century, but it would have meant a lot more to him in a winning cause.
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The fastest-emerging talent in England's one-day middle order was able only to save blushes in a 55-run Twenty20 defeat which would surely have been much worse without his precise and inventive hitting.
Buttler redressed a little of the balance at Hamilton's Seddon Park, after New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum had smashed 74 from just 38 balls and the tourists then stumbled to a hapless 80 for seven at one stage as they chased 192 for six.
The upshot was a comfortable series-levelling victory for the hosts, and a decider is therefore in the offing at Wellington's Westpac Stadium on Friday.
Twenty-two-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman Buttler once again demonstrated his huge potential, especially in the limited-overs formats, with a 28-ball 50 containing nine fours and one towering six over long-on.
It was only last week, in Whangarei, that he made his first half-century for his country - in the opening tour match against a New Zealand XI.
Within 24 hours he had added a second, and now he has repeated the dose too at full international level.
Tuesday's innings followed an encouraging sequence already, in which Buttler had been dismissed just once in his last six Twenty20 international innings.
But he just wishes his latest performance could have been part of a series-clinching win rather than face-saving damage limitation.
"It was satisfying. I seem to be in a good run of form. But it's always nicer when those runs come in wins," he said.
"So I hope on Friday I can contribute to an England win."
Buttler concurred with his captain Stuart Broad's candid assessment last night that England made things difficult for themselves by choosing to bowl rather than bat first.
"We maybe got that wrong," he said.
"But we did a bit of research and on a small ground like that we backed ourselves to chase down a target.
"The pitch changed a bit under lights, but we didn't play to the best of our ability.
"That's something we'll look to put right on Friday."
England's hard-hitting number six nonetheless insists the opposition, and McCullum in particular, deserve some praise for the way they responded to going 1-0 down in Auckland last weekend.
"It was almost a bit of a role reversal," Buttler said.
"I think New Zealand played a lot better - and credit where credit's due ... McCullum batted really well, and I think they bowled really well up front.
"Chasing big totals, when people get early wickets that makes it very hard to attain."