Dillon Pennington admits a change of mindset helped him dismiss star Indian batter Cheteshwar Pujara twice in one day during Worcestershire’s superb innings win over Sussex in the LV=Insurance County Championship.
Pennington says he found it challenging on day two bowling at one of the best players in world cricket with 6,713 runs in 93 Tests at an average of nearly 44.
But he blanked out who he was bowling at on day three and concentrated purely on executing his game plans irrespective of who he was facing, and it paid handsome dividends.
Pujara edged Pennington to Ed Pollock at slip in the first innings after making a fine century. Then, when Sussex followed on, he was bowled for 12 by another excellent delivery.
Pennington said: “It was really pleasing to get him (Pujara) out twice. I struggled the evening of day two. I was bowling at Pujara rather than the number three and slightly missed my line and length a little bit.
“I found it quite challenging. He is a Test player and one of the best batters in the world.
“But it was nice to come on day three and try and get that out of my mind and make sure just that I was bowling my best ball, see how that goes, and that obviously worked out a little better.
“Not worry about who the batter was? Yes. I think I was just guilty of bowling at Pujara, which adds more pressure to what should be a simple situation of just trying to hit the top of off stump.
“I made it a little bit harder for myself, so, on day three, my plan was just to get that out of the window and do what we say is our blueprint and hit the top of off stump as many times as I could, and it worked.
“It is a cool feeling, but I don’t want to think about it too much because we’ve got lots of good players to face again in the next game, and I want to try and get as many wickets as I can.”
Pennington had also caused problems for New Zealand star Kane Williamson, then playing for Yorkshire, earlier in his career and earned praise from South African star Morne Morkel, who was part of the Surrey side.
Pennington said: “It is nice compliments and something you can look back on when something doesn’t feel right, and you feel out of rhythm, and you need a bit of a boost.”
The 23-year-old was delighted to help Worcestershire pick up 23 points from their win over Sussex to add to the 14 from the drawn game with Leicestershire when they came within one wicket of another victory.
Pennington said: “The whole 11 chipped in at some point. Obviously, there were some stand-out performers, but, as a collective, it was a brilliant win and so pleasing for everyone around watching on and for us, as players.
“It was what some might say is a complete performance. We put the runs on the board and played to the blueprint of our batting.
“When it came to bowling, we noticed that they might have missed their length and line a little bit, and we pounced on that and made sure we hit a full length consistently.
“It was a pitch that didn’t offer a lot, but, at points of the game, it did, and we made use of that by bowling in the right areas.
“We also performed most of that game at Leicester to our best potential, and we just didn’t get across the line, but we showed what we are trying to achieve works over the three days play that was possible.”
Pennington is now looking forward to Thursday’s meeting with Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.
He said: “I think it will be a really challenging game, but if we can play as we did against Sussex, the way we batted with patience, bowl the same way, and perform consistently, we will be fine.”
England pace bowler, Stuart Broad, is set to face Worcestershire, and Pennington is looking forward to the contest.
He said: “A brilliant challenge. A great challenge for the batters and also brilliant for us bowlers to be able to watch and learn from.
“I will be sitting behind the bowler’s arm at some point, trying to watch the way he bowls, the line he bowls, the lengths, and maybe try and pick his brains again.
“It will be great to learn off for all of us, but hopefully a great challenge we will succeed in.”