Set to make his Test debut against India in the third match of the series, England wicketkeeper batsman Jos Buttler says it would be a big Test for him but he is determined to play aggressive cricket.
The 23-year-old Buttler was brought in the team as a replacement for Matt Prior, who decided to take an indefinite break from cricket due to injury following another poor show in the 95-run defeat in the second cricket Test against India at Lord’s.
“Test cricket is my ultimate goal,” said Buttler, a couple of days ahead of what will surely be his debut Test.
“It was nice to have played ODIs and T20s for a while and it was a good introduction to the team environment. It’s the same players, same backroom staff and it looks quite familiar to me now.”
“Sunday is going to be a big Test for me and I am determined to enjoy the feeling,” he said.
Having made his ODI debut in 2012, Buttler has now become a regular fixture in the England playing XI as well as the T20 side.
In the limited-overs arena, he is considered to be an aggressive batsman, something he had also brought into his first-class play in the county circuit.
In the 2014 season, he averages 40.57 from eight games so far at a healthy strike-rate of 55.14 and England will be hoping for a spark from him, especially considering that he models himself on Kevin Pietersen.
“I want to stay aggressive and score runs. When Pietersen played, people wanted to watch that. It is a little bit about momentum too,” he said.
“I am playing well and I am in a better space. I am ready.”
The third Test of the five-match series between India and England will start at Southampton on Sunday.
The visitors triumphed at Lord’s by 95 runs in the second Test to take a 1-0 lead after the first Test at Nottingham ended in a draw.
It is now the mid-way point of the series and the much-talked about fatigue will probably start to set in.
For England this will be a dual-edged sword. They suffered a humiliation at Lord’s with India winning only their second-ever Test at that ground and a first in 28 years.
The last time the visitors did so was under Kapil Dev’s leadership in 1986, and then went on to take the series.
That fear will lurk in the English mindset and they will need some inspirational cricket to lift themselves up.
Ideally they will want it to come from Alastair Cook, their leader who is looking to turn around his form at this crucial juncture. But any quarter will help and this is where, perhaps, the inclusion of Buttler is a welcome move in this English camp.
For India, they have had an easy run-in to this third Test given the advantage they hold.
The team spent two off-days in London after the win, travelling to Southampton only on Wednesday.
Thursday they had an easy net session.
Two days before the Test though, intensity returned to their training.
Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli, both looking for runs in the series so far, had a long outing with the bat.
Alternately, Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the bowling heroes from Lord’s, spent another easy day in a bid to regain their best physical form for the game.
If at all India have any debatable point at the moment, it is regarding that fifth bowler.
Although the pitch at the Rose Bowl retains a green look, it is quite unlike Lord’s. There is no way India will play an extra batsman.
But will they continue to retain Stuart Binny, who has been rarely put to use as the fifth bowler, is a million dollar question.
Binny has bowled only 20 overs in two Tests, belying his status as a fifth bowler.
He did score a crucial maiden fifty at Trent Bridge but his poor shot selection at Lord’s – particularly in the second innings – balanced that out.
R Ashwin, on the other hand, with two Test hundreds to his name, is still looking to play his fifth Test outside India, his last one was in December against South Africa.
He had gone wicket-less in Johannesburg, a Test India would have won if they had a fifth bowler.
“When you have a genuine all-rounder, then maybe you can think of going in with five bowlers to get the job done,” said former Australian captain Steve Waugh, who was in London for the second India-England Test, as a member of the MCC’s World Cricket Committee.
“But I wouldn’t sacrifice a fifth bowling option to not play a top-quality batsman in my eleven,” he added.
The seven-batsmen ploy, though, isn’t Dhoni’s cup of tea at the moment.
When pressed to perhaps take a pick, Waugh added, “We were fortunate to have Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne at the same time. They were both attacking bowlers and at the same time, very tight as well and didn’t leak runs. We never had to make that call.”