England batsman Jos Buttler said his maiden Test century was his “proudest moment in an England shirt”.
The 27-year-old, who has made six one-day hundreds, scored 106 as he and Ben Stokes helped take the third Test against India into a final day.
Buttler was recalled to the Test team in May after a 17-month absence and hit his first hundred in his 23rd match.
“It’s been a long time coming and a few months ago it was a million miles away. It’s a huge moment for me,” he said.
Buttler’s partnership of 169 with Stokes, who made 62, meant the players will be back at Trent Bridge on Wednesday morning, although India require only one more wicket with England a distant 210 runs from victory at 311-9.
England began day four on 23-0 but lost both openers within the first 17 minutes of play and were 62-4 when Buttler and Stokes came together.
Their fifth-wicket partnership began at 12:20 BST and went through until 17:30.
“It was very important for us to show a lot of character and fight and not give it to India easily and we did that really well throughout the day, even the two guys at the end there making sure we come back for a fifth day,” Buttler said.
After Buttler was dismissed, Jonny Bairstow, batting with a fractured middle finger, fell next ball, as five wickets tumbled within 14 overs, leaving last-wicket pair Adil Rashid and James Anderson to hold out for the remaining 5.4 overs.
“We knew the second new ball was going to be a big phase – it’s disappointing we couldn’t make it last a bit longer,” Buttler said.
“To show you can do it for your team and that you hopefully belong is maybe the biggest thing.
“I was never sure if I’d ever play Test cricket again so all those thoughts go through your head when you’re out there and start to get close [to a hundred].
“Test cricket is really tough – it tests you in all sorts of ways and this is definitely the proudest moment in an England shirt.
“Something I try and do is read the situation and play accordingly. We were just trying to work through small passages of play. You can’t [overstate] how much luck plays a part – human error, a dropped catch and I wouldn’t be sat here today.
“Trying to focus on the moment and play each ball on its merit within your gameplan is all you’re trying to do and if it means they bowl well and you play out four maidens you try and trust your defence to get you through that.”
‘That partnership can be the benchmark’
Former England captain Michael Vaughan wants the team to learn from the way Stokes and Buttler combated the India bowlers.
“They played the Test match way, with great patience, skill and discipline, the attritional way that is required in Test cricket when the ball is doing a bit – and it was doing plenty,” Vaughan told BBC Test Match Special.
“As they got more and more in and batted more and more time, the ball started to do less and they started to expand into their shots.
“I thought it was a partnership which I hope the England dressing room were studying and say ‘that’s the way we want to play’.
“England have produced it a little bit too late – they are going to lose this Test match – but I think that partnership can be the benchmark of the way that we hope England want to play their Test match cricket going forward.”