Ollie Pope stars on Day 3 of 1st Test as England fights back against India

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Ollie Pope scores his fifth Test century against India on Day 3 of the Hyderabad Test

England fought back on Day 3 of the Hyderabad Test after India’s domination on Day 1 and Day 2 as Ollie Pope scored a century and will hope to continue his exploits on the potentially decisive fourth day’s play as the batter remained unbeaten till the last ball of the day. 

The crowd at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad was treated to some fine batting on Day 3 after the Indians folded quite early failing to add significantly to the overnight score.

After playing the first eight overs of the day with caution, Axar Patel opened his arms up by smashing Jack Leach away for two boundaries before Joe Root repeated his heroics from Day 2 to dismiss a set batter with Ravindra Jadeja trapped LBW in the 120th over. Root turned out to be England’s best bowler in this game, as he cleaned up the stumps of Jasprit Bumrah on the very next delivery.

After Mohammed Siraj did a commendable job of blocking out the potential hat-trick ball, Rehan Ahmed took the job of keeping the pressure on the Indians by getting the wicket of Axar. The all-rounder was looking well set and was just six runs away from a half-century, but his stumps were cleaned up after being outfoxed by Rehan’s spin and India’s innings folded at 436, with their lead being 190 runs.

Sticking to their ‘Bazball’ style of play, opening batter Zak Crawley came out swinging at the Indian bowlers, scoring 31 runs off the first 32 balls including four boundaries and a maximum before Ashwin got the better of him in the 10th over.

The dismissal of his opening partner did not stop Ben Duckett from playing his usual shots though while Pope looked much better right from the start this time around after a poor dismissal in the first innings. England batted for 15 overs before lunch was taken, scoring 89 runs at a scoring rate of almost six runs per over.

Indian skipper Rohit Sharma decided to call up Jasprit Bumrah into the action for the second session, which turned out to be a fantastic call. In the fast bowler’s first over of the session, Duckett and Pope brought up their 50-run stand before Bumrah struck Duckett on the pads right in front of the stumps but wicket-keeper Srikar Bharat convinced Sharma to not take the review which turned out to be the wrong call.

But then in the pacer’s second over, Duckett found himself losing his wicket to a peach of a delivery that uprooted his stumps after contributing 47 runs off 52 balls. Bumrah’s riot did not stop there, as in his next over, he got Root’s wicket as well. The former English Test skipper was outdone by both pace and swing and ended up throwing his wicket to an LBW call after just scoring two runs.

After two wickets in quick succession, new batter Jonny Bairstow decided not to play ultra-aggressive cricket on this track, while Pope also restricted his usage of high-risk shots. While Pope was successful in accumulating runs after adopting the new approach, Bairstow’s stay out in the middle was not a long one. 

He had only played 23 deliveries and scored 10 runs before a Jadeja delivery got him clean-bowled. While Bairstow left the ball thinking it would turn, it ended up crashing on the stumps.

Ravichandran Ashwin picked up the important wicket of Ben Stokes

After Pope brought up his half-century in the 32nd over, Ben Stokes could not do what he did in the first innings The England skipper scored only six runs in the first 32 balls he faced, before getting clean bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin. It was also the 12th instance of Ashwin picking up Stokes’ wicket in Test cricket.

Then struggling at 163/5, still 28 runs away from registering a lead, it seemed England would barely be able to offer a minimal target to India, but Pope and Ben Foakes put up a solid fight thereon.

Carrying on from a score of 172/5 at the Tea break, the pair picked and chose the bowlers they wanted to target. While the likes of Bumrah got respect, Axar did not have a memorable day in the office.

The run-flow went up briskly as Pope brought out the reverse-sweep shots and completed his century in the 61st over helping England cross the 250-run mark in the 63rd over. Jadeja almost brought Pope’s downfall in the 64th over as the top-order batter went for a reverse sweep but skied it in Axar’s path who failed to time his jump correctly and fumbled the ball while landing on the grass.

The sixth-wicket stand between Foakes and Pope became the first partnership of the series to cross the 100-run mark and lasted for 112 runs before finally coming to its end in the 67th over. The re-introduction of Axar worked out in India’s favor as the ball kept low cleaning up the stumps of England’s wicket-keeper when he was batting on 34 runs from 81 deliveries.

Rehan Ahmed ably replaced Foakes on the 22-yard patch and remained unbeaten till the end of the day’s play contributing 16 runs off 31 balls while Pope is unbeaten at a score of 148 runs from 208 deliveries. At the end of the third day’s play, the visitors are 316/6 in their second innings, having a modest lead of 126 runs.