LONDON: Jos Buttler celebrated his 28th birthday with an innings of 89 that left England on top in the fifth Test against India at The Oval on Saturday.
England, who had already won this five-match series at 3-1 up, started the second day in danger of being dismissed for under 200 at 198 for seven.
Yet when Buttler was last man out they had made a total of 332.
At tea, India were 53 for one in reply, a deficit of 279 runs. K.L. Rahul was 35 not out and Cheteshwar Pujara on 15.
Buttler and Stuart Broad (38) frustrated India with a ninth-wicket stand of 98 as, yet again this series, England bounced back with the bat after a top-order collapse.
Significantly, this was the fourth time in five innings that Buttler, recalled to Test duty earlier this season by new national selector Ed Smith, had been England’s top-scorer.
Alastair Cook, in his final Test appearance before international retirement, made 71 on Friday.
But the left-handed opener’s dismissal sparked a slump that saw England lose six wickets for 48 runs.
Buttler, who had been given out lbw to Mohammed Shami on eight on Friday only for a review to reveal an inside edge, was 11 not out overnight, with Adil Rashid unbeaten on four.
Despite overcast conditions that promised to assist India’s fast bowlers, Rashid was quickly into his stride with two well-struck fours off Jasprit Bumrah. But on 15 he fell lbw to the fast bowler, with England then 214 for eight.
New batsman Broad was peppered with several short-pitched deliveries but hung in long enough to on-drive Shami down the ground for a textbook four.
Buttler then clipped Ishant Sharma behind square for four to raise a fifty stand with Broad.
And Buttler then completed his own fifty in 84 balls, including five fours.
Buttler followed up by driving Sharma through extra cover for four before Broad’s two off the same bowler brought up the 300.
England scored 106 runs in Saturday’s morning session, with Buttler 63 not out at lunch and Broad 36.
Broad’s valuable innings ended on 38 when a soaring mistimed drive off left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja was well caught over his shoulder by a diving Rahul, running back from mid-on.
Buttler, on 69 at the time, responded to the arrival of last man James Anderson by hitting two sixes in three balls off Bumrah — a drive over long-on and a hook over long leg.
But looking for a single to keep the strike, he fell short of what would have been his second Test hundred when he guided Jadeja to Ajinkya Rahane at slip.
Jadeja, playing his first match of the series after off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was sidelined through injury, had fine figures of four wickets for 79 runs in 30 overs.
Bumrah and Sharma took three apiece but fellow paceman Shami, who repeatedly beat the bat, was unlucky to bowl 30 wicketless overs that cost 72 runs.
Anderson started India’s innings needing four wickets to equal Australia great Glenn McGrath’s record for the most Test wickets taken by any fast bowler of 563.
But it was longstanding new-ball partner Broad who made the breakthrough when, with his first delivery Saturday, he had Shikhar Dhawan lbw.
Off-spinning all-rounder Moeen Ali, who took a hat-trick to complete a win over South Africa in his last Test appearance at The Oval, almost struck in his first over on Saturday when Pujara, on 10, turned him off his hip only for Cook to drop a sharp one-handed chance at short-leg.
ENGLAND (1st Innings, overnight 198-7):
A.N. Cook b Bumrah 71
K.K. Jennings c Rahul b Jadeja 23
Moeen Ali c Pant b Sharma 50
J.E. Root lbw b Bumrah 0
J.M. Bairstow c Pant b Sharma 0
B.A. Stokes lbw b Jadeja 11
J.C. Buttler c Rahane b Jadeja 89
S.M. Curran c Pant b Sharma 0
A.U. Rashid lbw b Bumrah 15
S.C.J. Broad c Rahul b Jadeja 38
J.M. Anderson not out 0
EXTRAS (B-26, LB-9) 35
TOTAL (all out, 122 overs) 332
FALL OF WKTS: 1-60, 2-133, 3-133, 4-134, 5-171, 6-177, 7-181, 8-214, 9-312.
BOWLING: Bumrah 30-9-83-3; Sharma 31-12-62-3; Vihari 1-0-1-0; Mohammed Shami 30-7-72-0; Jadeja 30-0-79-4.
INDIA (1st Innings):
K.L. Rahul not out 35
S. Dhawan lbw b Broad 3
C.A. Pujara not out 15
TOTAL (for one wkt, 18 overs) 53
FALL OF WKT: 1-6.
TO BAT: V. Kohli, A.M. Rahane, G.H. Vihari, R.R. Pant, R.A. Jadeja, I. Sharma, Mohammed Shami, J.J. Bumrah.
BOWLING (to-date): Anderson
5-1-12-0; Broad 4-1-12-1; Stokes
5-0-18-0; Cyrran 2-0-2-0; Moeen Ali 2-0-9-0.
Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2018