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Mark Wood Reflects on Epic Win, Challenges the Assumption of Spinning Pitches

Ben Stokes informed Mark Wood that he would open the bowling again in the first innings as England left to defend the 231 mark they had set India in the first Test in Hyderabad. And the catch? It would be one over.

Wood wasn’t shocked. His debut day-one bowling was just two overs as the solitary seamer in the assault. Using seamers as a point of differentiation was part of a larger plan before the series. The spinners would dominate, with Wood’s speed and reverse-swinging skill in bursts.

Unconventional Bowling Strategy

England’s four spinners grabbed 18 wickets, with Tom Hartley scoring a match-winning 7 for 62. Wood says the micro-spells—his eight second-innings overs were bowled in splits of one, three, three, and one—took some getting use to.

“When we were at the ground, he said probably one or two,” Stokes told Wood. “I feared I might not open the second innings bowling. It was ‘one over; that’s it’.

“That was odd. I thought, “Right, I’ll practice one over with the new ball” when the captain said you’d bowl one over with it.

“You’d hardly aim to bowl one over and leave. Oddly, I trust his words. An end? Okay, I’ll give it all up for this. He said’ And I’m not annoy. I understand, we’ll spin. Just a little different.”

England’s Advantage

England will travel to Vizag on Tuesday 1-0 up ahead of the second Test which begins on Friday. Their last tour in 2021 also saw them take the lead before India switched up tactics and conditions, leaning hard on their superior spinners to eventually triumph 3-1.

England’s Advantage

“We’ve given them something to consider. It’s not guarante that we’ll arrive and be spun out. Ollie Pope has played a great knock, so they’ll have to assess how to counter that, just like we would if things went poorly.

“We’ve won one game, which is amazing, but we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves. Avoid saying “ah we’re going to win” now. The same again. Take the same approach and hope for the same result in the next game.”

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