LONDON (Reuters) – India got off to a cautious start on Saturday, reaching 53-1 at tea on the second day of the fifth and final test after Jos Buttler led an England fightback with a brilliant half century.
With England having already built up an unassailable 3-1 lead in the series after victory in Southampton last week, India are looking to salvage some pride at The Oval.
Shikhar Dhawan departed early, barely troubling the scorers and caught plumb in front of the wicket with a delivery from fast bowler Stuart Broad that seamed right back in with the scoreboard at only six.
That brought in Cheteshwar Pujara, the hero of India’s first innings in the fourth test, who steadied the ship with KL Rahul.
Of the two, Rahul looked the more confident, playing some lovely cuts against the fast bowling of James Anderson.
Earlier, Buttler scored 89 to propel England to 332 runs after the hosts had been reduced to 198-7 at the end of the first day thanks to some disciplined swing bowling by India.
Buttler got good support from fast bowler Broad who grafted his way to 38 runs to thwart the visitors and they put together a 98-run partnership for the ninth wicket.
Jasprit Bumrah made the early breakthrough for India in the morning by trapping Adil Rashid lbw for 15 runs by getting the ball to skid through his defences. A review showed it would have gone on to clip leg stump.
Rashid’s dismissal brought Broad to the crease. He played and missed numerous times, with Mohammed Shami and Bumrah getting the ball to swing in chilly and slightly overcast conditions.
At the other end, Buttler grew in confidence and kept the scoreboard ticking along at a healthy clip to lead the fightback, as he has done numerous times in the series with the tailenders.
But a brilliant catch by Rahul, who caught a blinder after Broad mis-hit a ball over mid-on, brought an end to England’s biggest partnership for the first innings.
Buttler struck some lovely shots on either side of the wicket to pepper his knock with six boundaries and two sixes and was the last man out for the hosts, eleven short of his century.
On Friday, England’s Alastair Cook, who is playing in his final test, hit 71 but fell short of a dream farewell century as India’s bowlers roared back to leave the hosts reeling in the final session.
(Reporting by Saikat Chatterjee; Editing by Clare Fallon)