England batsman Ollie Pope revealed that India captain Virat Kohli had warned him about turning wickets mid-way through the India vs England 1st Test match in Chennai. The first Test was the only one in which England batsmen stood up in front of the Indian bowlers and as a result also went on to win the match. However, they failed to hold on to their 1-0 lead as India came storming back to win the next three Tests comfortably and take the series 3-1.
After posting 578 riding on a double century from captain Joe Root in the first innings of the first Test, England only managed to cross the 200-run mark just once in the next seven innings as Indian spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel shared close to 60 wickets between them to make the England side look ordinary in front of the turning ball.
"In the second innings the pitch started spinning quite a lot," Pope said during Surrey's pre-season media day at the Oval. "I remember standing at the non-striker's end and Kohli came up to me and said 'this is the last of the flat wickets'. At that point I knew it was probably going to be quite a challenging rest of the series from a batting point of view."
Pope, who was troubled a lot by both Axar Patel and Ashwin, said senior England cricketers like Joe Root and Ben Stokes had said it was one of the toughest conditions that they have played in. "Chatting to the more experienced guys like Joe Root and Ben Stokes, those guys were pretty much saying exactly the same: these are the toughest conditions they've played in," Pope said. "If those guys are saying it as well, you know how challenging it is.”
The right-hander said it was actually a compliment for their batsmen and bowlers that India had to change their ‘gameplan’ in the final three Tests. "I'm not saying [India] felt they had to produce those wickets, but the fact they've gone away from their flat wickets for three days, then spin on day four and five, which is generally the theme out there, it was quite a compliment to us in how we went about our business and a compliment to our bowlers.
"That shot us in the foot a little bit but it's a good compliment to us as a team because they obviously felt they had to change their gameplan," he said.