England v India: Jos Buttler helps hosts open up 233-run lead

England v India: Jos Buttler helps hosts open up 233-run lead
England v India: Jos Buttler helps hosts open up 233-run lead
Jos Buttler added 56 with Ben Stokes and 55 with Sam Curran
Fourth Specsavers Test, Ageas Bowl (day three)
England 246 (Curran 78) & 260-8 (Buttler 69, Root 48)
India 273 (Pujara 132*, Moeen 5-63)
England lead by 233 runs

England fought through the third day to leave the fourth Test against India wonderfully poised in Southampton.

Jos Buttler made 69, sharing stands of 56 with Ben Stokes and 55 with Sam Curran as the home side reached 260-8, a lead of 233.

On a gripping day, there were times when England were in peril, especially at 92-4 and, after Joe Root was run out for 48, 122-5.

But the determination of Buttler, Stokes and Curran left England with the edge on a wearing surface that is offering assistance to both pace and spin bowlers.

India's attack was threatening throughout, even if off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin seemed hampered by the hip injury that affected him in the third Test at Trent Bridge.

Still, the tourists are facing pulling off their highest run-chase to beat England in a Test.

If they fail, England, who lead 2-1, will seal the five-match series.

England's tense battle

Through their recent batting struggles - they were bowled out in a session in Nottingham - England have been criticised for a cavalier approach.

Admittedly, their top order once again was found wanting on Saturday, but perhaps the only batsman culpable was Jonny Bairstow, who played an awful drive to the first ball he faced to be bowled by Mohammed Shami immediately after lunch.

After that, on a pitch where batsmen can never feel truly secure, the middle and lower order battled with patience, discipline and restraint.

Time and again the ball went past the bat and runs were earned rather than gifted, gratefully received by a crowd gripped by tension.

Until late in the day, India were never more than a couple of quick wickets from being on top and could still face a manageable chase if they wrap up the tail quickly on Sunday.

From England's perspective, they already have something to bowl at and, given the nature of the surface, are probably now the more likely winners.

More to follow.

'He's miles out' - Joe Root run out in mix-up with Ben Stokes

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