India pacer Mohammed Siraj said they were unruffled despite Jonny Bairstow's onslaught on the third day of the rescheduled fifth Test because it is imperative for bowlers to stay calm when batters come up fighting hammer and tongs.
Bairstow (106 off 140 balls) blazed his way to a century on Sunday, his third in successive Tests this summer, to help England post 284 in their first innings in reply to India's 416. Attack was the best defence for Bairstow in the later part of his innings as he hit 14 boundaries and two sixes during his entertaining knock.
But, Siraj (4/66), leading wicket-taker in the match so far for the visitors, said they were not perturbed. “As bowlers, we had to just keep patience. Bairstow is in form and he has been continuously playing attacking (game) since the New Zealand series.
“So, we were aware his confidence was high,” Siraj said after the third day's play on Sunday. “Our plan was simple, stick to our basics. We just kept believing in our ability, no matter what he did, it was a matter of one ball - be it an inswinger or seaming in off the pitch.
“In England, it is common to beat a batter multiple times, you just need to be patient and concentrate on your process,” he added. Siraj said the Indian bowlers did their homework and had a fair bit of idea about English batters' weak points.
“When we saw the New Zealand series, we realised that our every bowler is 140-plus and they (New Zealand bowlers) didn't have that,” Siraj said. “We had that ability and we also had played against England last year. So that was our plus point, as we were aware of their weak points and that is why we got the success.”
India finished the third day at 125 for three in their second innings, extending their overall lead to 257 so far. Siraj feels it would be difficult for English batters to chase down anything above 350 at Edgbaston.
“In the first innings, the pitch was helpful to begin with, but after that it became flat. So our only plan was to hit consistently in one area. If we took it easy, then we would end up leaking runs,” he said. “The ball also kept low. So it will be beneficial for us in the second innings.”
At stumps on day three, Cheteshwar Pujara was batting on 50 in the company of Rishabh Pant (30 batting). “He (Pujara) is a warrior. In Australia, he did it and here also, he is doing the job. Whenever the team requires, he always stands up. When tough situation arises, he is always there to do the job.
“Exactly, bowling to him is difficult, he does not attack much and just keeps on leaving balls so that can get irritating in the nets,” Siraj said.
Talking about stand-in skipper Jasprit Bumrah, the pacer from Hyderabad said: “As a player and as a captain, he has been the same. He is always supportive and is always there to help me out. Whenever I do wrong, he tries to make me understand what to bowl in certain situations.”