England are ready for anything India’s groundstaff throw at them in the coming weeks, with wicketkeeper Ben Foakes recalling the “horrific wickets” that greeted them on their previous Test tour.
The visitors made the short flight from Hyderabad to Visakhapatnam on Tuesday, still basking in their stunning first-Test victory but with minds already turning to their next assignment.
Three years ago they found themselves in a similar position, 1-0 up after winning the series opener, and proceeded to lose the next three by crushing margins as the pitches in Chennai and Ahmedabad offered extravagant turn from the off.
With India’s spinners running riot, England had a top score of 205 in six innings, and it would be no great surprise if the hosts attempted to serve up similar surfaces after their shock defeat last time out.
“The last time we were here all three were probably the worst pitches I’ve batted on,” said Foakes.
“From memory that first Test was played on a flat wicket and then they went to raging bunsens (turners). Going into that, I was thinking ‘oh, these are horrific wickets, I just need to find a way to stay in’.
“I don’t know (if it will be the same again) but it will be interesting to see.”
But just as they found a way to prevail in the Proteas’ own conditions, Foakes feels confident England are now able to win a trial by spin.
It was the tourists who batted best against the turning ball in Hyderabad, with Ollie Pope’s magnificent 196 exemplifying the team’s shared commitment to sweeping, reverse sweeping and ramping.
Debutant spinner Tom Hartley then claimed seven wickets to outshine the home attack, leaving England content that they have the tools to succeed if India lean hard on home comforts again.
“Obviously Popey put on a bit of a masterclass in how to do that, so I think quite a few of the lads have a game plan that will do well on those pitches. If that’s the situation you’ve got to be positive, put it back on the bowler and put them under pressure.
“It’s more of a mindset shift of how to go about it because in those conditions the bowler is massive favourite to win the contest so it’s how many blows you can put in.
“Before there was more of a fear of getting out and that put us in our shells. Now there’s not that worrying about getting out.”
Foakes’ appearance in the series opener was his first since the agonising one-run defeat in Wellington almost a year ago. He was dropped for the Ashes, with England restoring the fit-again Jonny Bairstow to keeping duties.
It was not the first time he has found his world-class glovework sacrificed for the team’s balance but he justified his recall.
His second-innings stand of 112 with Pope was the biggest of the match and then he finished a tidy game behind the stumps with two stumpings off Hartley.
“I obviously found it difficult (to miss the Ashes). You go through a few emotions. But there were no hard feelings,” he said.
“It still sucks getting dropped but I have come back a few times. I don’t see it as anything personal: someone picks you or picks someone else. There is no issue or anything like that. You are picked for a job and you come and try to do your best.”