Mark Wood insists ‘India have been given something to think about’

By Sports Desk January 29, 2024

Mark Wood feels England’s audacious victory in the first Test has changed the dynamics of the Test series, insisting “we’ve given them something to think about” ahead of next week’s clash in Visakhapatnam.

England completed a famous 28-run win in Hyderabad, bouncing back from 190 behind after the first innings to complete a success already being talked about as one of their best ever away results.

Debutant spinner Tom Hartley outperformed the decorated home attack with his seven-wicket haul on day four and Ollie Pope’s 196 exemplified the tourists’ ability to control the game with sweeps and reverse sweeps, raising questions about how India will respond.

When England last travelled here in 2021, India responded to losing the series opener by preparing extreme turning pitches and walked away 3-1 winners, but it is not at all clear that such an approach would suit them this time around.

And pace bowler Wood is excited to place the ball firmly back in their court.

“I don’t know what they will produce next, they have the potential to do any wicket they want. But now we’ve given them something to think about,” he said.

“It’s one of our greatest wins, that tells you how big it was, and now we know we can do it. They now have to come up with a different plan.

“We’ve only won one game and there are five in the series, so it’s another big task to win the next game, but we’ve proved to India it will be a battle and we’re not going to give up.

“It’s not a foregone conclusion that we are going to turn up here and they’re gonna spin us out. Popey has played a fantastic knock and they’re now going to have to go analyse, like we would do if things didn’t go well, and think how they are going to try and combat that.

“We’re playing differently. It’s not just plodding forward and trying to survive. We’re trying to put the pressure back on India. Their spinners were going at over four an over – that would have never happened in the last series.

“People call it ‘Bazball’, but it’s putting that pressure on when the time comes and that’s how we’re trying to win games.”

Wood played as a solitary seam bowler in the opener, delivering just 25 overs in the match and a new ball spell of just one over in the second innings.

His was a unique role by English standards but one he or James Anderson may be asked to perform again by captain Ben Stokes in the second Test.

“I actually said to Jimmy that I found it more bizarre not having anyone to talk to,” said Wood of going it alone.

“Going with four spinners and myself I knew my role would be very different to what I was used to. It was a bit odd, a bit weird at times, but spin was doing the damage.

“Very rarely would you ever think you’d bowl just one and then be off but I trust what Stokesy says. I’ll give it everything for one over and when he says ‘rest’ I’m not annoyed; I get it, we’re going to spin now.

“It could (happen again) depending on what they produce. Going forward, for all the seam bowling group, we know that could be the statement and it’s about getting your mind around how to approach it.”

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