Southampton: Jos Buttler (69, 122b, 7×4) once again proved to be a thorn in India’s flesh as his gutsy knock enabled the hosts to put up a fighting 260 for eight in their second innings on the third day of an even poised fourth Test.
Overall, England now have a competitive lead of 233 runs and it could be a tricky chase for the Indian line-up especially with the track being two paced where handling Stuart Broad could prove to be a difficult proposition.
Buttler received good support from the stodgy Ben Stokes (30, 110 b) adding 56 runs for the sixth wicket and 55 runs for the seventh wicket with the ever-improving Sam Curan (37 batting, 67 b). How quickly India get Curran out Sunday will decide the quantum of runs that India would need to chase. The match is expected to end Sunday if weather permits.
This was Buttler’s ninth Test fifty and he showed a lot of application even though he was troubled by the initial spell from Ishant Sharma (2/36) and Mohammed Shami (3/53). He survived a good spell of reverse swing from Shami and was ready to cut down on the shots square of the wicket.
In fact, England were in trouble at 122 for five when Joe Root was run out for 48. The lead was not even 100 runs but it was Buttler, who took the attack back to the opposition camp as Ravichandran Ashwin (1/78) despite being economical was not half as effective as Moeen Ali. The Tamil Nadu off-spinner couldn’t use the footmarks created by the trio of Mohammed Shami Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah (1/51). His only success was Stokes, who has been showing his defensive traits in this series with some dogged resistance. He was finally out caught in the slips to Ajinkya Rahane after a stand that lasted for 22 overs. Earlier, India maintained upper hand during the first two sessions Saturday.