Paul Collingwood pleased with England's bag of tricks on flat Rajkot surface

Despite the challenging conditions, England's bowlers found a way to make an impact early on. Mark Wood utilized the slightest hint of moisture, claiming crucial wickets, including Yashasvi and Gill.

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Paul Collingwood
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Paul Collingwood. (Photo Source: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

In Rajkot, Stokes' decision wanting to bat first on a seemingly gentle pitch reflected their determination to take control. Following the skipper's comment on the traditional approach in India, the strategic choice demonstrated England's adaptability, showcasing resilience on what is deemed one of the flattest pitches in recent Indian cricket history.

Despite the challenging conditions, England's bowlers found a way to make an impact early on. Mark Wood utilised the slightest hint of moisture, claiming crucial wickets, including Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shubman Gill. The scorecard reading 33 for three on a flat pitch reflected England's effective out-of-the-box thinking.

Assistant coach Paul Collingwood praised England's solid start, recognising key early breakthroughs. He highlighted the outstanding performances of Jimmy Anderson and Mark Wood, emphasising the difficulties spinners faced on the unresponsive pitch.

"It was a great start, there was a bit of movement around this morning, it seemed a bit cooler, a bit of moisture on the ground so the ball nipped around a bit. Jimmy and Woody were exceptional. As the ball gets softer, it's doing less. The spinners toiled away all day with little reward but when you've got quality batters like they have in the India team, they're always going to get a response. The two guys who got hundreds and Sarfaraz at the end played exceptionally well," Collingwood said, as quoted by Cricbuzz.

Also Read: Sarfaraz Khan gets a surprise from brother Musheer after dream Test debut

Wood's strategic use of short balls, leading to the dismissal of Rohit Sharma, and the crucial run-out of Sarfaraz demonstrated England's determination. Collingwood emphasised the importance of having a "point of difference" on such pitches, praising Wood's relentless efforts and the team's willingness to explore unconventional plans.

"You want a point of difference on these types of pitches. On flat pitches, you need something, be it a leg-spinner who can turn it both ways or extreme pace. They are usually things that break those partnerships and give you an edge. Woody runs in tirelessly for this team, and he always does it with a smile on his face. Even the wicket of Rohit came at an important time. The bouncer plan, you have to think outside the box on how to take wickets, be it field placings or plans. I thought we did that pretty well today. The best wicket was the run-out, he was chuffed to bits with that and it put a big smile on his face," he added.

Looking ahead, England remain upbeat, knowing they are equipped to chase any target on the swift outfield. Collingwood's optimism reflected the team's mindset.

"The mood's very upbeat. It doesn't generally change no matter what day we have. We all realize that however many runs India get, we're going to go out there pretty positively with the bat. If we have to chase runs on this pitch, it's a very fast outfield and we're good at chasing," Collingwood concluded.

Also Read: 'I enjoyed Sarfaraz’s batting, I was intrigued to see him' - England legend Alastair Cook in awe of debutant Sarfaraz Khan after Rajkot knock

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