England stand-in-captain Jos Buttler has heaped huge praise on English opener Jonny Bairstow as he termed him the 'leading player' of the team and one of the best overall in the world. He also added that it was great to see Liam Livingstone and comeback-man Reece Topley do well in the side.
Jonny Bairstow had batted exceptionally well in the ODI series opener, but, apart from him missing out on a well-deserved ton, England also went on to lose the game due to a freak collapse. However, he corrected the wrongs in the second ODI and not only made a phenomenal century for his side but also combined in a massive partnership with Ben Stokes. So much so that by the time he got out, winning was a mere formality for England as they leveled the series 1-1 in Pune on Friday to keep the series alive.
England's stand-in-captain Jos Buttler reckoned that Bairstow, who completed his 11th ODI century on Friday, has been great for some time now and is one of the leading batsmen in the world.
"Jonny has been in unbelievable form for the last few years for us," Buttler said. "He has been one of the world's leading batsmen in ODI cricket and it's been amazing to watch. If those numbers drive him on, that's fantastic. For us as a side, we all want to push boundaries of what we are all capable of as a team and, of course, individuals want to do that as well," Buttler said ahead of the third ODI, reported ESPN Cricinfo.
He also feels it's extraordinary the way the right-hander has managed to average well alongside a great strike-rate and claimed that the team rejoices watching the Yorkshireman play.
"That's fantastic, the form Jonny is in, and there is no reason why he shouldn't go on and break all those records. If you look at his numbers since becoming an opening batsman in ODI cricket, it is quite extraordinary, the averages and the strike rate he manages to score at, it's fantastic. It's brilliant to have him in our side and we love watching him play."
Butter, who's captaining England side in the absence of Eoin Morgan, also feels that Bairstow is the 'leading player' for England.
"He's our leading player really. It's just been brilliant to watch the consistency he shows to play in the fashion he does, which is what makes it so impressive. It's very intimidating to bowl at. I know having played against Jonny in the IPL and in the bowlers meeting [people] saying 'What should we bowl to this guy?' [There are] not too many answers to be honest. He's hugely appreciated within our side and I think everyone knows really just what special player he is."
Speaking of the second ODI, the stand-in skipper applauded Liam Livingstone, the debutante, who played a good cameo and helped seal the chase with 39 balls to spare.
"Lots of guys have had opportunities. It was great to see Liam Livingstone make his debut yesterday, brilliant to see Reece Topley to come back in and bowl so well. It's fantastic for these guys to get exposure and come in and perform in the fashion that we like to play as a side. It's great to see someone like Liam to fully commit to his way and it's great to see someone do that on debut."
The Three Lions might have lost the T20I series against India 2-3 but the English gloveman reckons it was a great exposure for the side in a World Cup year.
"The T20s were a great - I don't want to say exercise - but a fantastic series for learning about playing in this part of the world as a side, with the T20 World Cup looming in the near future," Buttler said. "I know Eoin and Chris Silverwood talked about building that pool of players who are exposed to international cricket and being exposed to playing against India in India is as hard as it gets in international cricket."