The success of openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul has added weight to India’s bid for a first Test series win in England in 14 years. However, their English counterparts have failed to provide the impetus for the host in the first two Tests.
England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler said its openers need to trust their natural game while also attempting to emulate the approach of the Indian openers.
Rory Burns and Dom Sibley have managed partnerships of 0, 37, 23 and 1 in the two Tests at Nottingham and Lord’s – a stark contrast to Rohit and Rahul who have managed 275 runs in four innings for the first wicket.
Speaking ahead of the third Test at Headingley, Buttler said: “It’s important for our openers to stick to their game and trust their techniques. They’ve got the skills to do it. Rohit and KL have played very well at the top. I think the standout thing is that they’ve been disciplined and stuck to their game plans and left the ball well. Those are signs of good opening batsmanship. We must challenge them more to get their wickets early.”
With Sibley’s poor form leading to his exclusion from the squad, Haseeb Hameed who registered scores of 0 and 9 at number three in the second Test, is likely to return to his favoured slot at the top.
‘Root’s dream form needs support’
Buttler also admitted that the batting department is under pressure to perform to take the load off skipper Joe Root whose sensational 2021 continues to get better.
Root – the only batsman to cross 1000 Test runs this year – leads the run-charts with 386 runs in four innings this series.
“It’s obvious that the rest of us need to step up and give Joe more support. This year, in particular, he seems to be in the form of his life. He’s had an amazing start to the series and hopefully, that can continue. We certainly don’t want to heap more pressure on Joe’s shoulders. The rest of us need to step up to the level we know we can to support him,” said Buttler.
Buttler’s late battle to avoid a harrowing defeat with a 96-ball 25 went in vain at Lord’s. However, the 30-year-old who has been in scintillating form in T20 cricket sneaked in his longest haul at the crease in whites since his 152 against Pakistan last August.
When quizzed about the challenge of swapping styles, Buttler said: “If the game demands to be positive and attack, I want to do that and if it needs me to occupy the crease, I need to develop a game to do that as well. All the top players in the world are able to do that and that’s my ambition too.”
Buttler also downplayed the effect of a packed five-match Test series. “It’s great to play these long series – the sub-plots that develop throughout the series as it goes on. By the end of five matches, the best squad or group will win. It really tests the strengths and depth of everyone and their physical capabilities.” he added.