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’Absolute masterclass’ as ton-up Pope pulls England into lead

BI Desk || BusinessInsider

Published: 01:09, 28 January 2024  
’Absolute masterclass’ as ton-up Pope pulls England into lead

Photo: Collected

Ollie Pope struck a defiant century to help England bounce back with a lead of 126 after their batting stutter against a persistent Indian attack in the opening Test on Saturday.

England's second innings reached 316-6 at stumps on day three in Hyderabad with Pope (148) and Rehan Ahmed (16) at the crease, reports BSS/AFP.

India finished their first innings on 436 with a lead of 190 and had England in trouble at 163-5 when Pope anchored a 112-run stand with wicketkeeper Ben Foakes, who made 34.

Pope reached his fifth Test ton and first against India with three runs off Ravindra Jadeja, removing his helmet and raising his bat to soak in the applause.

"A brilliant day for a number of reasons," veteran batsman Joe Root told reporters.

"The way that Popey has played today... honestly it's an absolute masterclass on how to bat in these conditions as an overseas player," he added.

"We've laid down some good markers and shown that we have got the tools and skills to really compete in these conditions."

Pope dug in as he played back-and-forth sweeps to good effect, neutralising India's forceful spin attack.

He survived one misjudged reverse sweep to backward point while on 110 when Axar Patel dropped the catch off Jadeja.

Axar's left-arm spin dispatched Foakes to end the partnership but Pope made the day his own in a marathon knock featuring 17 boundaries.

Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah and spinner Ravichandran Ashwin took two wickets each.

- Ashwin's bunny Stokes –

Zak Crawley fell to Ashwin's off-spin early but England raced to 89-1 at lunch after Ben Duckett's sweep shots defied the Indian attack to keep the scoring rate above five per over.

Bumrah bowled a sensational spell after lunch to get Duckett out for 47, soon after the batsman survived an lbw call off Bumrah that would have been upheld if reviewed.

He then got Root lbw for two to raise the volume of a raucous weekend crowd.

Jadeja bowled Jonny Bairstow for 10 and Ashwin got his second after he bowled Stokes out on six with a well-crafted flighted ball, which bamboozled the captain to rattle his off-stump.

It was the 12th time that Ashwin got left-hander Stokes out in Tests.

"It still has something for the bowlers," India's bowling coach Paras Mhambrey said on the pitch.

"There's still turn but it's not the usual turn on Indian sub-continent where as the game progresses there's sharp turn. But first things first, we want to get them out as quickly as possible."

India resumed the day on 421-7 in response to England's first innings total of 246 and overnighters Jadeja and Axar started cautiously, with just six runs scored in the first half-hour.

Root, who posted 4-79, got Jadeja out and bowled Bumrah on the next ball but Mohammed Siraj avoided the hat-trick.

Jadeja top-scored for the hosts with 87.

Leg-spinner Ahmed cleaned up Axar on 44 to end the innings inside the first hour.

Spinner Jack Leach, who injured his knee while fielding on day one and again on day two, took the field heavily bandaged and bowled just one over in the morning.