Lunch report: Buttler, tail frustrate India
Jos Buttler once again came to England's rescue and added to India's misery. (Getty Images)

On Friday, India had brought England down to their knees. But as has been the pattern in this series, England’s knee-jerk reaction has mostly been a counter-attacking one. This was evident once again on Day 2 of the fifth Test where England’s tail wriggled them out of trouble with Jos Buttler leading the way once again.

England’s leading-run getter in this series (323 and counting), Buttler brought up his second half-century of the series and forged two crucial partnerships to steer his side to 304/8 at the lunch interval, way more than England would have hoped for at the start of play. Runs came thick and fast this morning; England scored 106, stark contrast to the struggles they had endured yesterday afternoon.

India must be frustrated by the number of time they’ve had to see Buttler dig England out of trouble. His fighting partnership with Ben Stokes at Trent Bridge came in a losing cause, followed by a crucial stand with Sam Curran at Southampton, that set up England’s series-clinching win. The trend would continue at The Oval. The wicketkeeper batsman, celebrating his 28th birthday, put on 33 with Adil Rashid and an unbeaten 90 with Stuart Broad, flattening an Indian attack that began with plenty of intensity.

Ishant Sharma had his tail up from the moment he bowled the first over of the day. He troubled Adil Rashid with his swing and induced false drives from Buttler. But the edges hardly arrived, and the ones that arrived either fell short of went past the slip fielders. Rashid, having struck a couple of boundaries survived a close shout off Ishant, but Bumrah avenged him by pinning him in front of the stumps, the review not saving him.

Buttler got a move on once Rashid’s wicket fell. A few edges and some crisp drives. There was nothing extravagant. Despite plenty of men on the boundary, Buttler was able to pierce the gaps and get the boundary. He played away from his body but nullified the risk by brilliant timing. He was pleasantly surprised to see Stuart Broad regaining confidence and getting some runs with the bat. Their alliance is now the fourth-highest ninth-wicket stand for England against India.

The Indian pace battery lacked the spunk shown last evening. Once again, there were plenty of play and misses but at times, they bowled too full. The half-volleys were what Broad and Buttler capitalised on. Towards the end, England seemed like getting a move on. Buttler ran hard between the wickets, and Broad began slashing deliveries outside off. Runs began leaking.

Brief score: England 304/8 (Cook 71, Buttler 63*, Ishant 3/62) at lunch on Day 2