London, April 2
England batsman Ollie Pope has revealed that India captain Virat Kohli had walked up to him during the opening Test of the four-match series and warned “this is the last of the flat wickets” his team would see on the tour.
Starting the series with a win in the first Test in February, England suffered heavy defeats in the next three Tests as the spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel made them suffer on helpful wickets.
“In the second innings the pitch started spinning quite a lot,” Pope said about the first Test in Chennai. “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.”
England made 578 in their first innings of the Test series, winning by 227 runs.
However, with the pitches helping spin in the next three Tests, England could not cope with the conditions, losing by 317 runs, 10 wickets, and an innings and 25 runs.
“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,” Pope said. “If those guys are saying it as well, you know how challenging it is. 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.”
“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,” he added.
“The Indian bubble was a pretty tough one,” Pope said about the bio-secure bubble necessitated by the Covid pandemic.
“They were quite business-like hotels so there’s not a massive amount going on, there’s no real outdoor space to get used to, have a run-around or kick a ball around or anything normal,” he added. “So being back and strolling to go and get a coffee or anything like that, it’s just that bit of normality that I think humans need, really. It does have its challenges and everyone deals with them in slightly different ways but it is very nice to be out of those bubbles and let free a little bit.”
England will look to settle scores with India when they tour in the summer. — Agencies