Birthday boy Jos Buttler helps give England the edge over India

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Jos Buttler provided England’s seamers with the fresh impetus they needed on a hard-fought second day of the fifth Specsavers Test against India at The Oval.

Buttler (89) marked his 28th birthday by top-scoring for the fourth time in England’s last five innings as he and Stuart Broad’s ninth-wicket stand of 98 underpinned a recovery from 198 for seven at start of play to 332 all out.

Then in an impressive, occasionally bad-tempered but very skillful third spell of 6-2-8-2, James Anderson struck in successive overs to put himself just two wickets short of Glenn McGrath’s world-record 563 for any pace bowler.

England had surprisingly dominated the morning – thanks to their driving force Buttler.

He received support from Adil Rashid and then especially Broad as England put themselves back on the front foot in pursuit of a 4-1 series scoreline.

Jasprit Bumrah pinned Rashid lbw, and Broad entered the equation on a still under-par 214 for eight.

Stuart Broad and Jos Buttler shared a stand of 98
Stuart Broad and Jos Buttler shared a stand of 98 (Steven Paston/PA)

Far from losing his appetite for the battle, though, Broad’s concentration appeared redoubled.

India were unable to stop England’s charge for 20 overs until Broad tried to hit Ravindra Jadeja (four for 79) over the top and fell to a brilliant catch by KL Rahul – chasing back from mid-on to dive and hold a skier.

There was to be no birthday hundred for Buttler, but he was not done with just yet.

James Anderson struck twice for England
James Anderson struck twice for England (Steven Paston/PA)

By then, England’s last three wickets had put on 151 runs, and the onus was on India – all the more so after Broad struck with his first delivery, seam movement accounting for Shikhar Dhawan lbw.

Rahul responded, in company with the much more cautious Cheteshwar Pujara, in a second-wicket stand of 64 which ended when Sam Curran bowled the opener.

The all-rounder had his first Test wicket on his home ground, hinting at his habitual inswing but then getting the ball to leave Rahul off the pitch and take his off-bail.

Anderson, whose first two spells had been limited to two and three overs by Joe Root, was not happy.

He made his feelings clear to the umpire, surely risking the attentions of the match referee as Dharmasena subsequently spoke to Root – apparently about his lynchpin seamer’s conduct.

Debutant Hanuma Vihari made a nervy start, twice narrowly surviving Broad lbw appeals on nought, before keeping his captain company in a half-century stand.

But Kohli fell one short of his 50 when he edged a drive at Stokes to his opposite number at second slip, and left-hander Rishabh Pant was then caught at first in near mirror image.

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