Young England middle-order batsman Ollie Pope has revealed that Indian skipper Virat Kohli had warned him about the turning tracks that the tourists will encounter in the remainder of the series mid-way through the first Test, the only game which England won in the four-match Test series.
England, on the back of a brilliant double-hundred by their captain Joe Root, took the Virat Kohli-led hosts by surprise as they inflicted a rare defeat on the latters’ home turf to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
However, the next three Tests saw the pair of Ravichandran Ashwin and debutant Axar Patel knock the stuffing out of the visitors batting unit on some pretty challenging wickets. After smashing 578 in the first innings of the first Test, England could manage a 200-plus total only once in their next seven innings to eventually lose the rubber 1-3.
The pitches in the second and third Test in Chennai and Ahmedabad became the talking point due to the excessive turn that they offered from the first day itself.
Ollie Pope, whose struggles against Ashwin and Axar mirrored England’s plummeting fortunes, recalled Virat’s warning during Surrey’s pre-season media interaction at the Oval.
“In the second innings the pitch started spinning quite a lot. I remember standing at the non-striker’s end and Kohli came up to me and said ‘this is the last of the flat wickets’. At that point I knew it was probably going to be quite a challenging rest of the series from a batting point of view.” said Ollie Pope.
Pope further added that even the likes of Joe Root and Ben Stokes had admitted during conversations that the conditions were as tough as they had ever encountered in their respective careers.
“Chatting to the more experienced guys like Joe Root and Ben Stokes, those guys were pretty much saying exactly the same: these are the toughest conditions they’ve played in,” Ollie Pope said. “If those guys are saying it as well, you know how challenging it is.
The young batsman said that it was actually a compliment to England’s style-of-play in the first Test that forced India to change their game-plan and resort to turners.
“I’m not saying [India] felt they had to produce those wickets, but the fact they’ve gone away from their flat wickets for three days, then spin on day four and five, which is generally the theme out there, it was quite a compliment to us in how we went about our business and a compliment to our bowlers,” said Ollie Pope.
“That shot us in the foot a little bit but it’s a good compliment to us as a team because they obviously felt they had to change their gameplan,” Ollie Pope signed off.