Jos Buttler underlines Test class with England rescue act before bowlers take over

England’s Jos Buttler hooks a six during the fifth Test between England and India at the Oval. (AP)
Updated 08 September 2018
0

Jos Buttler underlines Test class with England rescue act before bowlers take over

LONDON: Jos Buttler says he has found a “nice balance and good mentality” after he offered further proof of his progress in Test cricket with a third fifty in four innings.
Celebrating his 28th birthday in style on Saturday, Buttler top-scored with 89 to take England to a competitive total of 332 all out in their first innings of the fifth Test against India at the Oval, having come in when they were reeling at 171 for five.
The big-hitting batsman was pigeon-holed as a limited-overs specialist until national selector Ed Smith took a punt, recalling him to the Test side this season after 18 months out of the team.
Buttler has not looked back since, becoming one of the most vital cogs in the England batting line-up.
In the two-Test series against Pakistan earlier this season, he was top-scorer for England with an average of more than 80.
He now has 349 runs in the current series against the top-ranked Indians — nearly 100 runs ahead of the next-highest England run-scorer, Sam Curran.
Buttler batted carefully against some searching seam bowling on Friday but stepped up the tempo on the second day under cloudy skies, smashing two sixes.
So what has changed for the Lancashire man?
“I have found a nice balance and good mentality about the game,” said Buttler, adding that his success had given him confidence.
“I’ve got a good perspective and have been practicing really well. I think that’s been a good thing and the consistency and preparation and probably the hunger to turn up and try hard again and continue good form.
“I think that’s been a big thing for me this year in all formats of the game.”
Buttler, playing his 25th Test, said he would describe his return more as a “second or third coming” than a breakthrough.
“I’ve just enjoyed my cricket. I spoke about the first time I got recalled at Lord’s (against Pakistan in May).
“It was an unbelievable opportunity to come back in and play and the fire was really burning for Test cricket.”
And he said he was comfortable with the different demands of Test cricket, willing to graft and then able to change gear when required.
“People have said to me you should play the way you do in white-ball (limited-overs) cricket in red-ball cricket,” he said.
“I’ve never really seen it like that. I’ve never felt comfortable just to go out and play shots.”
Former England captain Michael Atherton said Buttler had been the man of the summer for the home side.
“Buttler, recalled at the start of the summer, has been England’s man of the summer — he’s played beautifully throughout,” he said.
“He really puts the fear into the opposition because of how destructive he can be with the tail.”
Smith, the national selector, recalled the talented batsman to Test duty in his first squad announcement as England’s new national selector in May, to face Pakistan.
He was adamant Buttler would prove to be the “right player at the right time” and bring unique qualities to the team.
Buttler, who kept wicket for England in the fourth Test against India in Southampton, holds the record for England’s fastest-ever one-day hundred — off 46 balls against Pakistan in 2015.
He has also made a huge splash in Twenty20 cricket, becoming one of the biggest stars in the cash-rich Indian Premier League.
But over the English summer Buttler has emphatically demonstrated he belongs in the longest form of the game.
He has been the top scorer in four out of England’s past five innings and scored his first Test century in the third match of the current series in Nottingham.
In Buttler, England have the ideal man to anchor the lower middle order. Now their challenge is to find some consistency at the top.


Pakistan collapse to gift first Test to New Zealand in Abu Dhabi

Updated 19 November 2018
0

Pakistan collapse to gift first Test to New Zealand in Abu Dhabi

  • Hosts see wickets tumble as they collapse from from 130 for three to 171 all out.
  • Black Caps win by four runs — the fifth smallest win in Test history.

ABU DHABI: Debutant spinner Ajaz Patel took five wickets to lead a never-say-die approach from New Zealand bowlers as they pulled off a thrilling four-run win over an indisciplined Pakistan in the first Test in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
Defending a modest 176-run target, New Zealand bowlers led by Patel (five for 59), fast bowler Neil Wagner (two for 27) and Ish Sodhi (two for 37) bowled out Pakistan for 171 on a drama-packed fourth day at Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
It is the fifth smallest win in terms of runs in Test cricket’s history and gives New Zealand a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Azhar Ali fought a lone battle for Pakistan with 65 and was the last man out when he was trapped leg-before wicket by Patel. He reviewed Bruce Oxenford’s decision but the television replays upheld the decision.
Resuming on 37 without loss, Pakistan began the day as favorites to chase down the 176 they needed for victory although New Zealand will have taken some hope from Pakistan’s failure at the same ground last year to chase 136 against Sri Lanka.
Kiwi spinners Patel and Ish Sodhi opened the bowling and immediately caused problems as Pakistan lost three wickets in the first six overs.
Imam-ul-Haq was trapped leg-before for 27 to a full length ball by left-arm spinner Patel in the fifth over. In the sixth, Sodhi had Mohammad Hafeez caught in the covers and then three balls later held on to a return catch low to his left as Haris Sohail drove a full toss back at him.
Pakistani nerves were eased by the sight of Azhar and Asad Shafiq carefully rebuilding the innings with a fourth wicket partnership of 82.
Shafiq made a cultured 45, becoming the 11th Pakistani to reach 4,000 runs in Test cricket, but his dismissal in the last over before lunch, edging Neil Wagner to wicketkeeper BJ Watling, changed the game as Pakistan lost their final seven wickets for just 41.
After lunch, Babar Azam ran himself out for 13, the guilty party in a mix-up with Azhar and skipper Sarfraz Ahmed fell for a second time sweeping Patel, this time gloving the ball to Watling.
Bilal Asif tried to slog a straight ball from Patel and was bowled leaving Pakistan 154 for seven, still 22 runs short of victory.
The earlier measure at the crease had been replaced by chaos. In the next over Wagner had Yasir Shah caught in the slips and then Hasan Ali attempted a slog-sweep off Patel, picking out substitute fielder Tim Southee on the midwicket boundary.
Azhar then tried to inch Pakistan across the line, farming the strike from Mohammad Abbas.
But with five runs still needed to win Patel found the delivery to win the match for New Zealand.
The second Test starts in Dubai from Saturday while the third and final, again in Abu Dhabi from Dec. 3.