Mohali: Going into the third Test in Mohali after their loss in the previous tie, England bowlers are wary of Indian skipper Virat Kohli's form and have come up with plans to get him out early, knowing well that he tends to get a big score once he is well set.
India scripted a resounding 246-run win over England in the second Test to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
While skipper Virat Kohli's aggregate of 248 runs (167 and 81) laid the cornerstone of victory, the contribution of India's premier all-rounder Ashwin (52 runs and match figures of 8/119) was equally significant.
England all-rounder Chris Woakes, who impressed with his bowling in the opening Test, felt that it was crucial to dismiss Kohli early on.
Speaking about Kohli's performance in the previous Test, Woakes said, "Kohli scored lot of those runs, Pujara has also scored. Kohli has scored majority of runs, particularly in that second Test match. So, we are going to have plans to him to try and stop him scoring... Once he gets in, it's hard to get him out."
Despite the humiliating loss, Woakes felt that all was not lost and England have a good chance to bounce back.
"I feel that the teams are fairly evenly matched," he said, at the same time acknowledging that India were playing in their home conditions.
To another question, he said, "Although we have lost that last Test match, we felt that we have played some good cricket on this tour, barring a session maybe".
While pointing out that toss will play a role, he also said, "We obviously do have to win here to make sure we can win the series..everyone is in good spirits (on team morale after previous loss)."
About his own form after being rested in the previous tie, he said he was "fit and raring to go".
When asked that bowlers always have niggles and if he felt disappointed to miss out given the way he bowled in the first game, Woakes said, "Yeah, I suppose you always want to play, you don't want to miss any Test match, particularly when you feel you are in decent form and decent nick. Yeah, I suppose its one of those things which happens.."
On missing the services of their fast bowling spearhead Stuart Broad, Woakes said, "Obviously, it will be a huge loss if Stuart doesn't play..he is a world class bowler, he has been there for a long period of time. He has showed how good he is in one spell he bowled, I think it was one of the morning sessions, the last Test match."
When asked if he feels Mohali, traditionally known to favour fast bowlers, is the venue where England can boost their seam attack, Woakes replied, saying,"Potentially, may be...as you mentioned there has been history here that potentially might help the seamers a little bit better but, then same time last year's Test match it was just the opposite."
Woakes fielded a volley of questions surrounding ongoing 'SweetGate' (or Mintgate/Lollygate) in context to what happened with the South African team in Australia and also in the ongoing series in India.
He said he feels there were "grey areas" which need to be clarified.
Asked about 'Sweetgate' controversy in the series between Australia and South Africa, Woakes replied, "I think they have said that everyone tries to shine the ball... The fact that (South African skipper) Faf du Plessis has been fined by the ICC..I suppose there is quite a grey area there, isn't there. Hashim Amla said about him having chewing gum in his mouth, pretty much all day. I am not sure if it is deemed wrong, I am not sure. ...it needs to be clarified as to exactly what the problem is."
To another related question, he said, "We won't change anything that we do, there is camera's always on you, always has been, so there is nothing we need to change."
He also said during drinks break, guys will come and have sweets or mints just to re-energise and freshen up, to keep the energy going.
"Nothing more than that..And when you are really tired and the opposition is getting on to you, a lolly does help in boosting energy," he said, adding sometimes we take energy drink but he was not not sure how much sugar they carry in the mouth, saying it is a grey area.
At the same time, he added, "If the ICC feels that this should be banned and this should not go to pitch, maybe it is the way to do it. We do what we do. We have not been fined or banned, so we would continue to do what we were in the past."
Meanwhile, when asked about his own bowling, Woakes replied, "we always have to find ways of troubling the batsmen, particularly in these conditions, when generally there is not much help to get that seam movement."
On his own pace, he said pace to world class batsmen, sometimes doesn't matter too much if its not on target, so accuracy is all that important.
"I just try to put the ball in the right areas, try to get the side movement and trouble the batsman," he said.
On the Mohali track, he said,"Whether the pitch will spin on day one, I am not sure, but at some point it is going to spin, we have gone with three-on-three over the last two Test matches and the wicket doesn't seem to look too different to those."
Asked if he believes Jos Buttler has the ability to adapt and do a good job, Woakes said, "he is a brilliant one-day player. He has obviously showed that, he has been in a good form on this tour from that Bangladesh series, he was probably our best player on that series in similar conditions...everyone knows that Jos is a naturally attacking player."