Jos Buttler was glad he made the most of a chance he feared would be denied him on England’s Test tour of India.
Buttler marked his second Test back, following a year out after being dropped last winter, with a valuable half-century to help England to a first innings 400 all out as India spinners Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja took all 10 wickets between them.
The hard-hitting batsman had to get his head down and demonstrate great defensive nous, as well as the occasionally inventive release shot, in his innings of 76 – including in a ninth-wicket stand of 54 with Jake Ball.
England still finished day two of the fourth Test with much work to do after Murali Vijay (70no) and Cheteshwar Pujara carried India’s reply to 146 for one.
Buttler claims England can still be optimistic about the outcome at the Wankhede Stadium, where they are bidding to fight back from a 2-0 deficit with two to play.
Buttler’s sixth fifty in his 17th Test helped give them a chance but the 26-year-old admits he was not anticipating such an early comeback.
Buttler said: “In the future, I always thought I’d get a chance. But whether it would be as soon as this, I was probably expecting not to play in Bangladesh or here in India.”
Buttler believes the break from Test cricket – he has been a regular matchwinner in limited-overs cricket throughout, of course – has helped him.
“I’ve learned one of the big things you have to have, that the top players have, is belief in your own game... be confident when I get a chance I’m going to perform.
“You’re your own best coach. There’s plenty of people out there to speak to, but probably one of the things I was doing when I struggled was speak to too many.
“It is better bringing it back to a few close people you trust, and more yourself ... no one can do it for you. You can receive great advice, but you’ve got to believe in yourself.”
Coincidentally, Buttler has, as a Mumbai Indians overseas player, featured as often at this ground in the past year as he has for his county Lancashire at Old Trafford – and has now scored exactly 186 runs at each venue.
He added: “Probably the best thing for me is having not played any [red-ball] cricket for a year, and having some time to think about my game.
“We play so much cricket that sometimes there isn’t enough time to think, break down your game and [work out] what is vital to me to get the best out of myself.
“It’s very pleasing and really satisfying to get runs when you feel like the team needs them,” Buttler said.
“I really enjoyed getting us up to what we feel is a good score to have on the board.”
England retain confidence they can still have a winning opportunity.
“Getting up to 400 does that for us,” added Buttler. “The two guys there played very well for India, but still a lead of 250 – when the game can accelerate, in this part of the world, we can be a bit better and more consistent.
“When we build that pressure, there are definitely wicket-taking balls in that surface.”
India wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel claimed, however, that the home bowlers would have the edge in the end.
“I think the quality of our bowlers is far better,” he said. “They definitely get more revolutions on the ball than their spinners are doing. There is a definite difference in quality, for sure.
“We don’t have to go over the top, or try to play a sweep or reverse-sweep because there might be a bad ball coming soon.”