England batsman Jos Buttler has said that the hosts are in the driver’s seat to win the fourth Test and seal the series after taking a 233-run lead in the second innings. “Yes, definitely (we can win). You’ve seen the wear and tear in the wicket – even in the first innings as well, there was quite a bit of rough outside the right-hander’s off-stump. That’s promising for Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid – and with the seamers, we’ve seen a bit of variable bounce. So I think it’s nice to have the runs on the board,” said Buttler on Saturday.
Buttler scored 69 and put on vital lower-order partnerships with Ben Stokes and Sam Curran as England recovered from 122 for five to finish at 260 for eight at stumps. Talking about his partnership with Stokes, he said, “We’ve batted together in quite a lot of situations in different formats, so that rapport is obviously comforting in a way and allows you to get the best out of each other.
“We’ve got that right, left-hand combination, trying to rotate the strike and not let bowlers settle. We just went about it the same way – trying to extend the partnership, and slowly and steadily building the lead.” England did benefit from a change in batting order, with Moeen Ali coming to number three and skipper Joe Root moving down to number four. He scored 48 and shared a half-century stand with Stokes before being run-out for the second time in this series. Buttler said Root’s demotion was a strategic move.
“It was just a pure tactical decision – Moeen has been in such fantastic form for the last couple of weeks, and bats at number three for Worcestershire. I’m not sure, moving forward, what will happen – but tactically for today, it just felt like the right decision. Moeen knew last night, so turning up this morning he was going to bat (at three).”
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 and Mohammed Shami. Regarding Root, Buttler said, “I thought he batted fantastically well. He looked in great form and it could be the difference of one ball (between three and four) – so for a world-class player like Joe, I don’t think it affects him too much. I think in time stability would be important. At the minute, we’re just trying to work out the best combination.”
Ravichandran Ashwin didn’t trouble the English batsmen as much as India would have liked. Buttler said he still proved to be a handful. “They have their differences. Moeen sometimes bowls it a bit faster, I think, bit flatter. They’re both fantastic bowlers, and it was a hard battle for the left-handers – it looked especially tough when Ashwin bowled over the wicket into that rough,” he said.