India head coach Rahul Dravid asserted that he has not seen any team playing sweeps and reverse sweeps as consistently as the current England side as the Bazball triumphed India’s trial by spin in the first Test at Raviv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad.
The English batters countered the Indian spin troika – Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel with sweeps and reverse sweeps to negate the spin factor.
Ollie Pope, who was the standout batter, played a 196-run knock in the second innings which was filled with sweeps, reverse sweeps and reverse scoops.
Pope’s second innings masterclass was central to the Three Lions’ unforgettable 28-run win over India in Hyderabad after conceding a big 190-run lead.
“We’ll have to counter that (Bazball). I certainly haven’t seen it being done that (playing sweeps, reverse sweeps) consistently against that quality of bowlers. You’ve seen people try that before, and play some exceptional innings.
“But to be able to play it that consistently and that successfully without making that many mistakes, and maybe one or two odd mistakes, I probably haven’t seen it,” said Dravid during his post-match press meet on Sunday.
Dravid lauded Pope for pulling off reverse sweeps regularly to upset the bowlers’ rhythm.
“Yeah, especially, the reverse sweep…I think the sweep is something that we’ve seen people employ in the past. But to be able to play a reverse sweep that consistently and that successfully for that long, you know, hats off to Pope,” he added.
However, Dravid backed his spin trip to bounce back in the upcoming Tests but congratulated Pope for countering them brilliantly well with his sweeps and reverse sweeps.
Dravid, though, did not lose sight of the need to get better at execution.
“We have to get more disciplined with where we pitch the ball. We will work on it and we will get better at it as we got some world-class spinners. It’s not the first time that they’ve been challenged.
“One of the good things about our spinners is that they’ve always come back. But Pope truly played an exceptional innings. And if somebody does something exceptional, we’ll shake his hand and congratulate him.”
But that sportsman spirit apart, India will have to seriously plan how to unsettle this cavalier England group, in particular a high on confidence Pope.
Dravid, primarily, wanted his bowlers to regain their lines.
“It’s important that we respond. We need to come up with some plans and strategies and see how we can make him (Pope) play those shots from even more difficult lines.
“We need to be even more disciplined and meticulous with our execution because I thought our execution was a little bit off. Hopefully, in the next Test match if we get our execution right, then I hope he makes a mistake,” said Dravid.
India also had an injury scare as Ravindra Jadeja walked back clutching his hamstring after being run out while attempting a risky single.
Jadeja was caught well short of the crease by Ben Stokes’ direct hit.
Dravid said they will keep a check on the all-rounder as the second Test at Visakhapatnam is starting on February 2.
“We’ll see. I honestly haven’t had a chance to speak to the physio as yet. Once I get back, I’ll speak to him and see what it is about,” he said.