- It’s Stephan Shemilt
- Hyderabad’s top cricketer
First Test, Hyderabad (third day out of five):
England 246 (Stokes 70; Ashwin 3-68, Jadeja 3-88) & 316-6 (Pope 148*, Duckett 47; Bumrah 2-29)
India 436 (Jadeja 87, Rahul 86, Jaiswal 80; Root 4-79)
Ollie Pope scored a superb century for England, to keep the visitors at bay after three days of the first Test against India in Hyderabad.
Pope’s epic 148 not out pulled England to 316-6 in their second innings, 126 ahead of hopes of a landmark victory.
The vice-captain received brilliant support from Ben Foakes, who made 34 in the sixth wicket for 108 that ensured England remained unbeaten for two days, then took the lead for good.
Although Foakes was bowled by Axar Patel, Rehan Ahmed survived to the last 16 without getting out. Perhaps unluckily, Pope was dropped for 110 and will return on Sunday with a chance to set India a testable target.
All this after Jasprit Bumrah’s good reverse-swing bowling has helped England to reach 163-5 and in danger of losing the best start to date.
India managed just 15 runs in the morning session, posting 436, with Joe Root taking two wickets in two balls to finish with 4-79. Overall, the players lost their last three wickets for no runs but still led by 190.
If England are to do anything spectacular, they will have to wait for a change from captain Jack Leach, who has a bandaged left leg and can only bowl one ball.
England dreams the unthinkable
England could still lose the Test by a wide margin, but this was their best day of the tournament, a great performance from the second day of the second day and a boost to the rest of the series.
The visitors managed to reduce India from their overnight 421-7. Root got Ravindra Jadeja and Bumrah in quick succession, while Ahmed bowled Axar for 44 in the next over.
But it was with the bat that England showed real frustration, with all three of the top three answering the questions that surround them in this part of the world.
Ben Duckett escaped Ravichandran Ashwin for the first time in his Test career on his way to 47 and Zak Crawley, who had the worst record against spin in Asia, made a magnificent 31.
They were led by the Pope, who made one of the most hundreds and hits to visit this country, especially based on the type of attack, conditions, match situation and this fact is his first test since June following shoulder surgery.
It was reminiscent of Alastair Cook’s century in the first innings of England’s Test tour here in 2012, which sparked a quick turnaround to set them on the road to victory.
I strongly urge England to take everything from this Test. The play seems to lack flow and bite, so defending anything other than the target would be difficult for England’s tactical attack against India’s strong batting line-up.
But England have an advantage, which is more than what they had at the beginning of the day.
The Pope will offer a prayer in England
Pope’s effort is all the more remarkable after his 11-ball knock on the opening day, when he looked every inch the man who hasn’t batted well since the second Ashes Test in June.
Even at the start of this innings England’s vice-captain was far from his best, often swiping, mis-timing and missing all.
But he went through Bumrah and saw wickets fall around him, skipping, swinging and driving his way past 50 for the first time in 10 innings in the country.
With Ben Stokes out before tea and England still 27 behind, there was every chance the visitors would be beaten before the end of the day.
Foakes, who was also uncertain in the first sessions, was a composed partner, defending with a straight bat and scoring with a short sweep.
Pope grew in stature, reaching his fifth Test century by using Jadeja through his leg, then regularly turning spinners at slip.
Pope was on the back foot when Axar bowled immediately and although Axar got one to slip past Foakes, Ahmed, Tom Hartley, Mark Wood and Leach could help Pope push England ahead on Sunday.
Brilliant Bumrah blasts England
England reached 89-1 at lunch, progressing on a diet made entirely by spin. But fast bowler Bumrah, after the break, opened the game by taking 20 balls to turn back, with devastating results.
Bumrah, who is playing a remarkable fifth Test at home, had to have Duckett lbw, to keep India from checking again. In the next over, he drove past Duckett with a swinger and, in turn, put Root’s unsteady leg in front.
It was spectacular stuff, the kind of Test cricket that makes every delivery an event, creating a thrilling atmosphere for the 28,750 spectators inside the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium.
Jonny Bairstow did well to get Bumrah back, but lost his off stump without playing a straight ball from Jadeja, who had taken the ball deep. Stokes, a six off 33 balls, played around Ashwin’s half-volley which turned to hit the stumps.
India was growing, but was rejected by Pope and Foakes. As the spinners struggled to find form, Bumrah was called upon to face two threats in the evening session.
England refused and now face the challenge of the second new ball, which comes after three overs on the fourth morning.