England spinner Dom Bess says the wicket of India captain Virat Kohli is one of the best of his Test career and revelled in the way the key scalp came about in Chennai.
Bess claimed 4-55 from 23 overs on day two of the first Test, dismissing Kohli (11) and Ajinkya Rahane (1) to reduce India to 73-4 and then returning to oust Cheteshwar Pujara (73 off 143) and Rishabh Pant (91 off 88) after the duo had rallied the home side with a fifth-wicket stand of 119.
The 23-year-old took most satisfaction from removing Kohli – caught off an inside edge at short leg by Ollie Pope – during what he considers the finest bowling display of his 13-Test career to date.
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Speaking to reporters over Zoom after India closed on 257-6 to trail England by 321, Bess said of dismissing Kohli: “It’s certainly up there [with my best Test wickets].
“The calibre of the player, who he is, is phenomenal. He is a world-class player so it was [special], but more for what my process was. What I’m learning, what I’m doing that is getting me to that.
“You are always looking to get batsmen out but it’s not about bowling that magic ball. It’s about smashing in 10, 15 balls in a good area and then something will happen.
“That’s what I was really pleased about. I thought I held my line and length really well. It’s not about who you are getting out, it’s the consistency of balls. I thought I bowled pretty well and I think I am bowling really well at the moment. I was really confident going out there.
“It was important to make sure I had real confidence in my mentality and process. I’m 23, I’m only going to keep growing. My journey is going to be up and down.”
Asked whether it was his best spell in Test cricket, Bess – who took a five-wicket haul against South Africa in Port Elizabeth in January 2020 and another against Sri Lanka in Galle last month – added: “Yeah, I think so.
“I thought I bowled really well in South Africa when I came back [into the side] but I think coming from the lack of preparation, having quite a big break over the summer, and having to do a lot of things outside of cricket, like moving house, was very different, very new.
Bess’ fellow spinner Jack Leach endured a more chastening day in Chennai, with the left-armer going at around 10 runs an over at one point as Pant thrashed him for five sixes.
However, the 29-year-old dragged his economy rate back to 5.53 from 17 overs once he caught Pant off Bess at deep extra-cover and caused problems for Washington Sundar (33no) late in the day.
Bess feels Pant’s bombastic batting masked how well Leach bowled, while he says his friend and former Somerset team-mate – back playing Test cricket after a horror run with illness – will not be affected by his figures.
Bess added of Leach: “I thought he bowled really well and that’s not just me saying that. If you look at the way he bowled to Pant and Sundar I reckon there are balls hitting the exact same box
Rishabh Pant hit five sixes off the bowling of Jack Leach – the most by any Indian batsman off an England bowler in a Test innings. The previous record was held by Kapil Dev, who hit Eddie Hemmings for sixes from four successive deliveries at Lord’s in 1990. Wasim Akram holds the world record, having hit Paul Strang for nine sixes in his unbeaten innings of 257 for Pakistan against Zimbabwe at Sheikhupura in 1996.
“Pant is just a completely different player who played a phenomenal innings. Really courageous, really bold. How Leachy came back and kept smashing out a length shows the qualities he has.
“People will look at the fact he was going for 10 runs an over at one point but it doesn’t matter. It’s going to bring you massive opportunities if [Pant] gets it wrong.
“Leachy is so strong mentally, he has been through a hell of a lot, and that isn’t going to phase him at all.”
Follow over-by-over text commentary of day four of the first Test between India and England in Chennai on skysports.com and the Sky Sports app from 3.55am on Monday.
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