Cricket

Paul Collingwood lauds England openers for sense of calmness


England’s remarkable win at Headingley has ticked quite a few boxes for its assistant coach Paul Collingwood ahead of the fourth Test against India at the Oval.

Among the host’s concerns post its debacle in the second Test at Lord’s was the opening pair of Rory Burns and Dom Sibley that lacked fortitude. However, a welcome change in the third Test helped the side as its new opening pair of Burns and Haseeb Hameed posted a 135-run stand.

Collingwood said the partnership was a pivotal moment for England in the series, one that has helped it regain the sense of calmness required to move forward. “Lord’s was a difficult defeat; really what we needed to do after that was to calm our emotions down and refocus on what we can do.

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“I think the performance at Headingley was incredible, considering what had happened at Lord’s. We got off to a great start at Headingley with the way we bowled, and the first wicket partnership was outstanding in terms of the series. The calmness of Hass (Hameed) and Burns to put on over a hundred for the first wicket did calm everyone and helped the batting unit focus on the job at hand,” Collingwood said at an online interaction on Tuesday.

Not focused on India’s XI

Collingwood iterated that England isn’t fretting about the potential inclusion of Ravichandran Ashwin in the Indian side at the Oval on Thursday. The veteran off-spinner had stunned Joe Root’s men with 32 wickets in four Tests back home earlier this year. “We are very much focused on what we do as an England cricket team, we are trying not to focus on what India can do and what decisions they make,” he said.

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The former all-rounder added that England created enough pressure for India to have certain doubts over its balance. “You can understand from India’s point of view, how to get a second spinner into the side or whether they change Ashwin or Jadeja. Again, we’re not worried about their decisions. When you’ve put a team under enough pressure, you’re going to have these kinds of doubts over selections in the opposition.”

Root and Kohli – contrasting fortunes

England skipper Joe Root’s ability to churn quick runs against the Indian seamers has raised him to the top of the run charts with 507 runs in three Tests. Meanwhile, Virat Kohli has struggled for momentum – managing just 124 runs in five innings with one fifty.

Collingwood lavished praise on Root and said: “What Joe has done fantastically well is rotating the strike, he finds the areas to score. Once you put the pressure on the bowler, you know as a bowler, that you do not have much margin for error. He is seeing the ball well, it looks like he has a lot of time on the crease. Hopefully, it continues, it is great to watch him at the top of his game.”

When quizzed if Kohli needs to take a break from his leadership duties to focus on his batting, the former England skipper said Kohli’s aggressive approach would not vouch for such a change. “He is a very proud man, and he leads his country with a lot of emotion. I wouldn’t afford that Virat is a person who’d want to make such a change.” Collingwood remarked.



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