Indian batsman Jos Buttler expects that Virat and Co. will be highly competitive in the upcoming five-Test match series and feels they will give hosts run of the money.
Buttler has been in superb form since the Indian Premier League. However, the batsman pulled out from the IPL and was selected to play for the Test series against Pakistan. He was impressive in both the games.
In the first Test, he hit 14 and 67 as Pakistan won, and then top-scored with 80* as England won the second Test to square the series. Still a lynchpin of the England limited-overs sides, Buttler is hoping to make the most of his stellar form against India.
“Reinforcing the enjoyment factor and the incredible opportunity it is to play Test cricket … because those two games I wasn’t sure how it would go but I approached it in a great manner and that’s important for me to do that going into this series,” said Buttler in the lead-up to the first Test at Edgbaston from 1 August.
Buttler made a very impressive return to Test cricket in the series against Pakistan Buttler made a very impressive return to Test cricket in the series against Pakistan India might have lost the last series – 3-1 in 2014 – and won just three series in England over the years, but they are the No.1 Test team in the world and have travelled better in recent years than at many stages in the past.
“It’s a huge series. India are a fantastic team and are in all conditions now. Australia is a huge series for England but India aren’t far behind. We all know the force of nature that is Indian cricket. They are always highly talented guys and a highly competitive team and of all the countries we play against, they have the biggest following and cricket is as much a religion there as anywhere in the world. The incredibly tough challenge,” said Buttler.
Buttler had hit five half-centuries in a row for Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2018 when England called him up for the Pakistan Tests. It wasn’t his first time in the IPL – he has 1075 runs from 37 outings in the league over the years, having turned out for Mumbai Indians apart from Rajasthan.
People can get on well, know people well but it’s an international sport, and the reason guys have got there is because they want to win so it’ll be no different
“There’s a few guys I’ve played well and have friendships with. On the field, it seems to be forgotten and everyone is very competitive,” said Buttler. “There’s familiar faces, guys who you know a bit more about than just the cricketer. That’s one of the great things about world cricket now. You get these opportunities to play all around the world and you get to meet some great people. There’s a lot more familiarity between the sides that there ever has been before.
“Moeen (Ali) played with Virat (Kohli) and (Yuzvendra) Chahal. I saw them getting on quite well. I’ve played with Hardik Pandya myself at Mumbai. I’m sure there will be moments during the series on the field where those things will be forgotten. It will be highly competitive. People can get on well, know people well, but it’s international sport, and the reason guys have got there is because they want to win so it’ll be no different.”
As for the England camp, one of the talking points has been Adil Rashid’s selection in the Test squad. Rashid had signed a white-ball only contract with Yorkshire earlier this year, and played the last of his 10 Tests back in December 2016.
But Buttler, who also returned to the Test squad based on his short-format performances, saw nothing wrong: “I’m excited for him. He’s shown his class as a bowler back in the India and Bangladesh Test matches. He’s bowling as well as I’ve ever seen him bowl. He’s looks full of confidence, full of character and excited about the challenge.
“He’s a guy with excellent variations. I think you very rarely pick every single delivery a wrist-spinner bowls. He’s got good disguise and I’m sure he will take the confidence he has been bowing with all summer into the Test matches.”
Another wrist-spinner who has been in the news is Kuldeep Yadav, the Indian left-armer who picked up 14 wickets in five limited-overs internationals in England and troubled the home batsmen no end.
“Kuldeep Yadav was someone that the guys, gradually as the series went on, learnt a lot more about, getting used to his variations and his different angle of attack,” Buttler said. “He’s someone who the guys who played in the one-day series will have seen. There will be some shared information. Alastair Cook is a fantastic player of spin so there will be little pointers the guys who have played against him can share. Maybe his angle of attack.
“You saw as the one-day series goes on, you can look at copious amounts of video and analysis but until you actually get out there in the middle and face someone yourself, there’s only so much you can do.”
(With inputs from ICC)