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'We are just very optimistic': England opener Alex Lees

By ASHIS RAY

Birmingham, July 5 (IANS) Alex Lees, the England opener who was run out after scoring 56 in England’s second innings run chase, told a post-play media conference on the 4th day: ‘If we bat well for the first 30-40 minutes tomorrow morning we should be in a pretty strong position (to win the match). We are just very optimistic.’

He said: “(Ben) Stokes’ spell turned the game on its head. The (England) bowling this morning was the biggest turning point.” The England captain and all-rounder Stokes captured four wickets for 33 runs in a spell replete with short pitched bowlers, which fetched dividends for the home side as Indian batsmen obliged with injudicious hooks.

Speaking about the spirit in the England dressing room before the start of their second innings, Lees remarked: “There is ultimate belief that from one to 11 that we can do it.’ He added: ‘My role was to put some pressure on the Indian bowlers.”

India fielded batting coach Vikram Rathour to meet media.

He stated: “We had a pretty ordinary day with our batting. We could not convert starts.”

He went on to say: “If two wickets fall early tomorrow morning, the game can still open up. It’s not beyond (Mohammed) Shami and (Jasprit) Bumrah.” However, he admitted: “We needed to bowl better, in better areas; a couple of dropped catches also made a difference.”

About Cheteshwar Pujara, who made a half century before departing to an uncharacteristic uppish square cut, he felt he “gave his best”.

In a dramatic day, India slipped from a dominant position to danger of losing the test. They were bowled out for 245 in their second innings. Thereafter, England were at 259 for three, with Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow unbeaten on 76 and 72 respectively, chasing 378 to win.

–IANS

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