With England taking an early lead over India in the five-match series at Hyderabad, wicketkeeper-batter Ben Foakes has reopened the pitch debate by recalling his team’s previous tour of the Asian nation. Gearing up to keep wickets for England in the 2nd Test at Visakhapatnam, Foakes opined that the Indian pitches are one of the hardest for wicketkeepers in the longest format.
After folding for a below-par total of 246 in its first essay, Ben Stokes and Co. bounced back by registering a match-winning second innings total of 436 in the series opener. Premier batter Ollie Pope smashed a record-setting 196 while debutant Tom Hartley picked up seven wickets in the 2nd innings to seal a famous win for England over India at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium. Gloveman Foakes scored only 38 runs in the entire Test match against India.
However, the Englishman earned plaudits for his wicketkeeping skills in the series opener against hosts India. Gloveman Foakes produced the stumpings Ravichandran Ashwin and Mohammed Siraj in the 2nd innings at Hyderabad. In his 112-run stand with on-song Pope, the wicketkeeper-batter chipped in with a crucial 34-run knock.
‘These are horrific wickets’
Speaking to ESPNCricinfo ahead of the 2nd Test against India, Foakes opened up about playing his first Test in 11 months at Hyderabad. “In conditions like this, it’s about trying to think on your feet and learn because it’s not natural conditions (for me). I’ve obviously kept away a lot and kept to spinners, but I find that Indian pitches, with the variable bounce, are up there with the hardest. The more extreme the conditions you know things are occasionally going to wrong so you just have to mentally strong enough to put it out of your mind,” Foakes said.
Foakes was also a part of England’s side that toured India in the 2021 season. England upstaged India in the Test series opener at the time. However, the visitors ended up losing all three matches of the series following a rare win over the hosts in 2021. “All three were probably the worst pitches I’ve batted on. Going into that, I was thinking, ‘These are horrific wickets — I just need to find a way to stay in’,” Foakes recalled.