Jack Leach, who took a pasting from Rishabh Pant in the first innings, has been given a vote of confidence from the England camp as he prepares for his key role on the final day of the first Test against India on Tuesday.
The tourists need nine wickets to secure victory in the series opener with a lead of 380 but any worries that the SomErset spinner, who was hit for five sixes during Pant’s knock of 91, would be fazed by the experience were dismissed by the England bowling coach, Jon Lewis, who believes Leach could prove the match-winner.
Leach took three wickets on Monday, including the vital one of Rohit Sharma after being entrusted with the new ball which left India on 39 for one in their second innings, chasing a record 420 to secure victory.
“I was so pleased Leachy got that wicket tonight, I thought he really deserved that,” Lewis said. “He’s bowled an absolute beauty to get out Rohit – who is obviously a class, class player – and looks a real threat on this pitch. He could walk away with four or five wickets tomorrow and we could win a Test match – I’m pretty sure people won’t be talking about Pant’s first-innings runs if he does that.
“Every day as a cricketer you go out wanting five wickets or a hundred, but that doesn’t often happen. You are going to have more bad days than good days and you are going to have to deal with those. Jack showed his character with the way he came back after Pant got after him.”
Lewis says England are confident of “coming out on top” and defended the decision not to declare even when their lead was more than 400.
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“We are very comfortable and confident with the position we are in and really happy with where we are at. I think we will come out on top. We have played some really good cricket in this game and we are confident we can create enough chances to win the game tomorrow.”
In answer to questions about why England made the choice to bat on, Lewis said: “It’s obviously the first game of the series and whilst you want to get off to a really strong start, you don’t really want to give India a chance to win.”