Rajasthan Royals (RR) captain Steve Smith put up a brave face after his team suffered a 57-run loss against defending champions Mumbai Indians (MI) in the 20th match of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 in Abu Dhabi, UAE on Tuesday.
Royals, after back-to-back wins against Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab in Sharjah, have lost three on the trot -- against Kolkata Knight Riders in Dubai, Rajasthan Royals and MI, both in Abu Dhabi. And have slipped to seventh place in the points table.
But skipper Smith, who continued to score in single digits after scoring 69 and 50 in their first two games, tried to play down the team's diminishing returns, saying "they don't need to panic".
"I don't think we need to panic too much. It's just about implementing our plans and playing good cricket for longer. Hasn't been a good last three games. Need to turn it around and get some momentum," Smith said after the match at Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
Rival captain Rohit Sharma won the toss and added 49 runs for the first wicket with fellow opener Quinton de Kock. After debutant removed the South African, Shreyas Gopal dealt a double blow to the defending champions by claiming the wickets of Rohit and Ishan Kishan.
But Suryakumar Yadav, who was hit by a nasty bouncer from Jofra Archer, played an unbeaten knock of 79 off 47 and stitched a decisive 76-runs stand with Hardik Pandya.
RR's chase got off to a worse possible manner, losing Yashasvi Jaiswal off the second ball. Then the procession began, until Buttler and Tom Curran halt the slide for while. Buttler hit his third successive fifty against Mumbai but holed out after hitting 70 off 44 balls. And that effectively ended their chances.
"I think losing wickets early doesn't help. We haven't been able to get a good start in the last three games. Outside of Jos and Jofra at the end, we've got work to do," the Aussie great added.
With England all-rounder Ben Stokes, who arrived in the UAE late after spending time with his ailing father in New Zealand, still missing, the former champions need their star players to fire and keep the season alive. And Smith is confident that they can do just that.
"Stokes is not out till the 10th [of October]. He's not too far away. Hopefully, we can get a few wins and get some momentum before he comes in," Smith added.
They next play Delhi Capitals Friday at their favourite hunting ground, Sharjah Cricket Stadium, then travel to Dubai for a match-up with SunRisers Hyderabad on Sunday.
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