K.L. Rahul (24) getting out early, failing to tackle a Moeen Ali delivery that breached his defence.
Mumbai: England may still be ahead by 254 runs but Murali Vijay (70 not out) and Cheteshwar Pujara (47 not out) gave India a solid start as the hosts ended Day Two of the fourth Test here on 146/1 on Friday after Ravichandran Ashwin had added yet another five-plus wicket bag to his ever-growing kitty.
The 107-run unbeaten stand between Vijay and Pujara ensured India would begin the third day looking for the crucial first innings lead, despite comeback man K.L. Rahul (24) getting out early, failing to tackle a Moeen Ali delivery that breached his defence.
Earlier, England, resuming their first innings at 288/5, added 112 runs to their overnight score. India had England under the pump as Ben Stokes (31), Chris Woakes (11) and Adil Rashid (4) fell quickly, leaving them staring at the possibility of folding up for less than 350.
But Buttler (76), playing only his third Test since October 2015, and Jake Ball (31), dropped on zero by Virat Kohli at slip, added 54 runs in a ninth-wicket partnership to deny India the initiative.
India’s spin twins, Ashwin (6/112) and Ravindra Jadeja (4/109) made merry. Ashwin, in the process, elevated himself to Kapil Dev’s pedestal, claiming his 23rd five-wicket haul in Test cricket. India started brightly in response to England’s 400, as Rahul — returning from injury — and Vijay cashed in on every opportunity to attack the bowling.
Rahul was undone by Ali but Vijay remained aggressive and freed his arms whenever instinct dictated, being particularly severe on Adil Rashid. Vijay’s attacking mode offered England hope of another wicket before stumps. But the opener rode his luck as his shots had just enough wood on them to tease the fielders and land safely beyond their clutches on the outfield.
Vijay however was wise enough to curtail his shot-making and mixed caution with aggression and together with Pujara did not allow the English spinners to settle into a rhythm. They will look to keep the momentunm going and see India bat through the third day to ensure England face a mountain to climb to stay alive in the five-match series.
England (1st innings o/n 288/5): A. Cook st Patel b Jadeja 46, K. Jennings c Pujara b Ashwin 112, J. Root c Kohli b Ashwin 21, M. Ali c Nair b Ashwin 50, J. Bairstow c U. Yadav b Ashwin 14, B. Stokes c Kohli b Ashwin 31, J. Buttler b Jadeja 76, C. Woakes c Patel b Jadeja 11, A. Rashid b Jadeja 4, J. Ball c Patel b Ashwin 31, J. Anderson (not out) 0. Extras: (b1, lb2, nb1) 4. Total: (in 130.1 overs) 400.
FoW: 1-99, 2-136, 3-230, 4-230, 5-249, 6-297, 7-320, 8-334, 9-388.
Bowling: Kumar 13-0-49-0, U. Yadav 11-2-38-0, Ashwin 44-4-112-6, J. Yadav 25-3-89-0 (1nb), Jadeja 37.1-5-109-4.
India (1st innings): K.L. Rahul b Ali 24, M. Vijay (batting) 70, C. Pujara (batting) 47. Extras: (b1, lb4) 5. Total: (for 1 wkt, in 52 overs) 146.
Bowling: Anderson 8-4-22-0, Woakes 5-2-15-0, Ali 15-2-44-1, Rashid 13-1-49-0, Ball 4-2-4-0, Stokes 4-2-4-0, Root 3-1-3-0.