Rajasthan Royals opener Jos Buttler is backing himself to regain his form heading into the Indian Premier League (IPL) playoff against table-toppers Gujarat Titans, the Englishman said on Monday.
Buttler is the league's leading scorer with 629 runs, including three hundreds, from 14 matches and has hit 37 sixes, which is the most by any batsman this season.
But he is without a half-century in his last five knocks, which include three single digit scores.
"I've obviously been delighted with my form in the IPL, but a bit disappointed with the last few games," the 31-year-old said ahead of Tuesday's playoff against Gujarat.
"(In) the first half (of IPL) I was playing some of the best cricket I've ever played, and I'm still taking lots of confidence from that going into the playoffs," Buttler said.
Buttler's duel with Gujarat pace spearhead Mohammed Shami will be an interesting match-up considering the seamer's impressive powerplay records.
"As a bowler, you should not be worried about things like who's the highest run-getter," Shami said when asked about his plans for Buttler.
"Everyone has a weak point and you can exploit that. You just need to back your skills and keep faith in yourself.
"I'm never overawed by the reputation of the batsman I'm bowling to."
Gujarat's director of cricket Vikram Solanki said the team must continue the good work after finishing the league phase on top.
"We can certainly be proud of what we've done but we must look ahead," the former England international said.
"The team will rely on what we've done in the group stages in order to get us through what we hope will be a successful knockout stage."
The winners of Tuesday's qualifier will book a place in Sunday's final.
The losing side can still make the final, for which they will need to beat the winners of Wednesday's eliminator between Lucknow Super Giants and Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Retiring out is risky but can give competitive advantage: Ashwin
Experienced spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who has impressed both with ball and bat this season, feels certain decisions like retiring out can provide a competitive edge to the teams if done properly.
"It's important to understand how it (a decision) is going to give us an edge in important moments. I think (retiring out) is part of the future of the game in T20 cricket, and I believe it's there to stay," said Ashwin, RR's most economical bowler this season.
"People are going to perceive it as risky because once you retire a batter out and things don't go your way you might have to explain that. But if it's executed well, then it can give you a competitive advantage."
Ashwin has scored 183 runs and picked up 11 wickets at an economy of 7.14 this season.
Warne has been watching me from above: Chahal
Yuzvendra Chahal credited his success to the closely knit group and said playing for RR has also been special because of the late Shane Warne, who had led the team in the inaugural season.
"I know it's just the first season here (at Royals) for me, but it feels like I've been playing here for many years. I'm really relaxed here mentally, and I believe the credit goes to the people here, who take really good care of me ... it has really made me connect with the franchise at a different level," said the Purple Cap holder.
"On the other hand, it's also special for me because Warne sir played for RR and was the first-ever Royal, and I think his blessings are with me. I feel like he's been watching me from above."
I kept learning as a batter and captain: Samson
Leading the franchise for a second full season, skipper Sanju Samson said he has never stopped learning and communication has been one of the key components of his captaincy.
"I think I've actually developed and kept on learning as a batter and also as a captain. I'm really enjoying the responsibility of leading this team, especially with so many experienced players in our side.
"I think when you lead a side, it's very important to have that kind of perspective where you allow people to come and talk to you in pressure situations and allow them to express their ideas," said Samson.
"I do receive a lot of information, a lot of suggestions... So, I'm really enjoying the unity and the willingness of everyone to contribute to the team, and I think it's very important to listen to everyone. But I also know that the final call has to be from my side, and I have to take the ownership of each and every decision made by the team."