Alex Lees praises England's belief and optimism against India ahead of final day at Edgbaston

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Day five of the final Test match between England and India will rightfully be played in front of a packed-out Edgbaston, as the hosts look to complete a record chase of 378. It's a higher total than England have ever managed before, and would be worthy of a spot in the top 10 chases ever completed in Test cricket. Yet remarkably, at 259/3, England look strong favourites heading into the final day. Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow put on a dazzling display in Birmingham, with the duo making an unbeaten stand of 150. Root will resume on 76 while the in-form Bairstow continues from 72. The pair have thrived in the new era under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum, with England opting for a fearless and aggressive approach with the bat. Nothing will change in the series finale on Tuesday, as England look to build on their impressive series win over New Zealand in June.

Openers Alex Lees and Zak Crawley also deserve credit for denting India's lead early on, with the former managing a half-century, while Crawley fell just short on 46.

It was a spirited display from the very first delivery, and Lees insists that the side's belief is as high as ever. "I just think there is ultimate belief in one another, from one to 11, that we could do this," he said. "I think we're just very optimistic about it. You know the target is there but you just try and put it into the background. It's not something we necessarily spoke about. "As a unit our batters are getting runs, they're confident, it's a pretty good wicket and a good outfield. So, obviously, we just want to take the game to the opposition."

Still chasing his first Test century, Lees left the field through no fault of his own during Monday's play, after a poor call from Joe Root at the striking end. But not to be disheartened, Lees was pleased with the overall team performance, and praised the words of head coach McCullum heading into the match. "Brendon McCullum pretty much just said: 'Go and do your thing'. We all know the brand this team wants to play. I just want to express myself," said Lees. "Joe could lend me one of his hundreds, he's got plenty of them," he added with a smile. "I saw him briefly when he came to the field, he was obviously gutted, but he's a top guy and hopefully he'll get the job done tomorrow. "On a personal level it's quite hard to take, but the pleasing thing for me is that we're in an amazing position as a team." England resume on 259/3 on Tuesday, with play set to start at Edgbaston at 10:30 BST.

The article Alex Lees praises England's belief and optimism against India ahead of final day at Edgbaston appeared first on Planetsport.com.

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