Rank turner makes it an even playing field, says Pope

Ollie Pope
Ollie Pope produced an epic knock in the opening Test in Hyderabad. Photo: PTI

Ranchi: England would not mind a rank turner in the fourth Test because assistance to spinners from the word go will make it a level-playing field, vice-captain Ollie Pope said on Wednesday.

The Tests in Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam and Rajkot all had sporting pitches, which were not predominantly spin-friendly and had something for everyone.

"If it does spin from ball one, it takes the toss out of the equation, then it's an even playing field," Pope told reporters here.

"A lot of the time the wicket starts out flat and then deteriorates. We won the first game batting first, India the last two batting first. It doesn't define the result if you bat first on slightly flatter wicket but it does give you an advantage," he added.

Pope, one of the heroes for England in Hyderabad, feels that a wicket offering good turn will provide them with wicket-taking options.

"If it does do a fare bit like we expect it to then it gets us into the game. We have got some young spinners, they have bowled well in some pretty good surfaces. It definitely give us wicket-taking opportunities. They have done a good job on flat wickets as well."

Pope had used the sweep shot to blunt the effectiveness of Indian spinners to score a majestic 196 and fashion England's victory in the series-opener.

"Personally, when the ball is doing more your best batter is trying to hit the bowler, trying to get him to bowl off his length. It helps if you try to put pressure on the bowler like we did in Hyderabad.

"If it's spinning we will see more sweep shots, innovative shots. We have realised that the threats that they pose on spinning wickets, the likes of Jadeja, Ashwin and Kuldeep.

"Our best bet is to put them under pressure like we did in Hyderabad in the second innings. That can give us a large amount of confidence going to the Test if it does end spinning a lot like it did then."

With India resting Jasprit Bumrah, Pope feels the hosts can opt to field a fourth spinner in Axar Patel.

"Potentially (India will bring fourth spinner), we got to see what they do once they see the wicket. See what they want from the pitch, if they want some grass left.

"They have watered the pitch so potentially an extra spinner could be seen from India. With Jasprit missing they might go down that avenue, Axar Patel is definitely an option for them."

"The pitch looks interesting, very platey'. The cracks in the wicket aren't just cracks, there are separate bits of ground that could open up with a lot of sun on them. The ball could deviate more off them if they open up like we expect them to."

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