England bowling coach Jon Lewis on Monday defended his batsmen’s approach in the post-tea session on the fourth day of the opening Test against India, saying accelerating wasn’t easy on a “tricky” Chepauk pitch. England set India a world record chase of 420 after being bowled out for 178 in their second innings. The hosts were 39 for one at stumps.
“The guys were positive in the way they played. I don’t think it is a straightforward pitch where you can be reckless to score. But, we were very comfortable with the amount of overs we wanted to bowl on Monday,” he said when asked about the decision to not declare early. “We will try to have a bite with the second new ball if possible on Tuesday. We are comfortable with where we are at in the game,” Lewis told reporters during a virtual media interaction after the day’s play.
Replying to another question on whether he thought 419 was enough and if England would have liked more time to bowl at the Indians, he said the batsmen played positively with an intent to score and accelerating wasn’t easy. “The pitch is good but tricky. Accelerating against India in India isn’t always straightforward. The guys played positively with intent to score, but within the constraints of the conditions,” Lewis added.
Asked if England were happy with the position they were in at stumps on day four, the bowling coach said with “that many runs we are ahead in the game.” “We are really happy with where we are at. With that many runs on the board, we are ahead in the game. We have played some really good cricket. We are confident that we can create enough chances to win the game. “I think that we are in a very strong position. We just need to work hard, show the right character and do the basics well. Regardless of the great batters that India has got, we have enough in the tank to win the game,” he added.
He said the aim is to make a strong start on the final day and put India under pressure. “Yes, definitely. It is the first game of the series. While you want to make a really strong start, you don’t want to give India a chance to win. “We got as many runs as we could and kept the run-rate higher for India. That was our best chance to win the game,” he said.
Lewis praised left-arm spinner Jack Leach, who came back strongly after being hammered by Rishabh Pant on the third day. He bowled Rohit Sharma with a beauty in India’s second innings. “So pleased that he (Jack Leach) had got that wicket tonight. I thought he deserved that. This morning he bowled really well… yesterday obviously Pant went after him. “Pant’s options were obviously high risk. Leach had been asked to do a specific job. The percentage is very much in Jack’s favour with the way he is bowling.
“Everyday as a cricketer you want to get five wickets or get a hundred, but that doesn’t happen. You may have more bad days as a cricketer… you have to deal with those. He bowled very tidily after being attacked by Pant. He looks a real threat on this pitch.” Asked if they had any plans for Pant, who was the hero of India’s series-clinching win in Australia last month and smashed 91 in the first innings here, Lewis said England have specific strategies for every batsmen. “Obviously… Rishabh plays the way he plays. In our eyes he takes a high percentage of risks. In terms of specific plans, we have specific plans for every Indian batsmen. We will stick to try to get the percentages in our favour,” he said.