Ind vs Eng, 1st Test – Joe Root – Having a committed mindset key to playing the reverse sweep


The reverse sweep was England’s second most profitable shot (48 off 30 balls, no dismissals) in the second innings that took them from 190 behind to 126 ahead. Ollie Pope and Ben Duckett in particular were using it repeatedly, throwing India’s spinners off the good length area where most of the danger lurked in this Hyderabad pitch.

In all, England made 79 runs off 46 balls using various kinds of sweeps – including a reverse Dilscoop that Pope played late in the day after raising an immense century.

India’s bowling coach Paras Mhambrey credited England for being brave and said the only thing to do when a team comes out with such unorthodox strokeplay is to hold your line and hope for the edge.

“It does happen. If a batsman starts to access different areas, it’s always going to be a challenge,” Mhambrey said. “Someone like Pope who played, he accessed the square, fine leg area as well and the sweep and the reverse sweep and he played it consistently. Credit must go to him. They really played well, took on the attack at the stage where it was needed and sometimes that happens. Someone who plays some shots like these consistently does get the bowlers under pressure in terms of variation in the lines. Credit goes to him.

“But as I said, we still have to be patient with the lines, still hit the right areas and hope to get a wicket. Hope to get an edge or something or the other. That can happen. But I think the credit goes to him the way he played.”

Joe Root, who spoke in glowing terms about Pope, said the key to playing the sweep and the reverse sweep is to believe you’re going to nail it every single time. This was when he was asked if they might be a better option than a forward defensive on a turning pitch.

“It can be if you can play it well,” Root said. “When it’s hardest is when some spin, some don’t. When it’s consistent spin you can work out when to take it on, and which balls from which line you can take a risk on.

“The most important thing is you don’t think you are going to miss at all. Have that mindset of committing to the shot and nailing it for four or one, or whatever. Pope did it exceptionally well. It took until 110 to make a small error when he got dropped. There were a couple of balls that ripped past his outside edge but you expect that; it’s part and parcel, almost like in England when it’s swinging and seaming around, and you almost give yourself a pat on the back because you’ve not chased it. It’s exactly the same here. It was a really special knock.”

India aren’t bothered that they’ve fallen behind because they believe that the surface in Hyderabad is a little atypical.

“If you look at the way the game has progressed over the last three days, looking at the first session, the amount of balls, the pace of the wicket, the pace of the spin, it got better in the second innings and I think it’s only going to get a little better,” Mhambrey said.

“It is on the slower side. There’s still turn but it’s not the usual turn that we see on Indian subcontinental wickets where the game progresses and there’s sharp turn. It’s not that. Still a little turn but not as challenging as maybe the other wickets we’ve played on.”

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