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regular-article-logo Saturday, 13 April 2024

India vs England, 4th Test: Ollie Pope's bowling dilemma over ‘platey’ pitch in Ranchi

England are considering going back to their one specialist pacer approach with Ollie Robinson set to make his first appearance on the tour

Our Bureau Calcutta Published 22.02.24, 06:59 AM
Ollie Pope on Wednesday.

Ollie Pope on Wednesday. PTI

The pitch at the JSCA Stadium in Ranchi is already playing on the minds of the Englishmen.

Ollie Pope, the England vice-captain, thinks the wicket already has a lot of cracks and looks “platey”.

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“It looks an interesting pitch. There’s a lot of cracks, it’s very platey, and they’ve just wetted it as well, which generally dries it up. If you wet it and leave it in the sun, we have found it crusts that top layer. It doesn’t necessarily look like a belting wicket at the moment,” Pope said on Wednesday.

“It kind of looks like one half is good and then there’s a lot of platey cracks at the other,” Pope said. “At the minute, it lo­oks like batting from the far end, there’s rough outside the right-hander’s off-stump. For example, Ashwin’s going to bowl from that end from over-the-wicket because he might want to bowl it into the rough.

“And from this end, it’s outside the left-hander’s off-stump... That’s how we see it at the minute. I think we will see what happens tomorrow (Thursday) after the Indian team has looked at the wicket, then make a decision from there.”

England are considering going back to their one specialist pacer approach with Ollie Robinson set to make his first appearance on the tour. He will be supported by Ben Stokes returning to his role as a seam-bowling all-rounder.

Robinson’s previous Test appearance came against Australia at Headingley in July, which was also his last competitive match. It could mean England resting both Mark Wood and James Anderson with Stokes performing the second seamer’s task.

Stokes bowled for around 20 minutes on one of the side pitches before hitting the outdoor nets on Wednesday.

“There’s definitely a ch­ance,” Pope said. “Stokes’ not confirmed it even in the changing room, so we will see. He bowled at the batters today (Wednesday). We’ll see how he pulls up, and if that’s good hopefully we will see him with the ball in hand.

“I think when he’s going it’s pretty tough to get the ball out of his hand to be honest. But I’ll chat to him before the game, see if he wants anything like that from me.

“If he’s got full confidence in his knee I guess you’ve got to trust the medical advice
and trust his opinions. If he needs a bit of guidance on the pitch then I can be someone to lean on.”

Stokes has 197 wickets at an average of 32.07.

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