India sense Test victory despite Pope's fighting century in Hyderabad

England vice-captain's unbeaten 148 the highlight of day three at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium

By Reuters

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England's Ollie Pope plays a shot during the third day of the first Test cricket match between India and England at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad. - AFP
England's Ollie Pope plays a shot during the third day of the first Test cricket match between India and England at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad. - AFP

Published: Sat 27 Jan 2024, 5:26 PM

Last updated: Sat 27 Jan 2024, 5:27 PM

England vice-captain Ollie Pope produced an unbeaten 148 but India remained on course for victory in the opening test at the end of day three at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on Saturday.

The tourists had risked a defeat inside three days after India, having built a lead of 190, reduced England to 163-5 in their second innings in the second session of the day.

But Pope dug his heels in, hitting 17 fours in a 274-minute masterclass to produce arguably his finest knock even though India are confident of going 1-0 up in the five-match series.

Rehan Ahmed was keeping Pope company on 16 with England finishing the third day on 316-6, putting them 126 ahead with four wickets in hand.

"It was a brilliant day of cricket for us," England batter Joe Root said.

"The way that Popey played in particular has been an absolute masterclass on how to score runs in this part of the world, when you're not used to playing here."

India, who have not lost a test series on home soil since 2012, amassed 436 in their reply to England's first innings 246.

That left England with a mountain to climb and the touring batters did not retreat into any defensive shell.

Openers Zak Crawley (31) and Ben Duckett (47) scored freely, frequently employing the sweep shot -- both traditional and reverse -- to negate India's spinners.

Crawley motored along at a run-a-ball rate but could not convert the start and edged a Ravichandran Ashwin ball to lone slip Rohit Sharma.

Duckett, then on 39, was lucky when Jasprit Bumrah's lbw appeal was turned down and India did not review that decision. Replays confirmed the ball would have hit the leg stump.

Not that it mattered - in his next over, Bumrah uprooted Duckett's off-stump and let out a roar.

The ball had started reversing and Bumrah was looking particularly threatening. A length ball from him rapped Root on his front pad and the batter challenged the lbw decision against him but could not get it overturned.

Root, who excelled as a part-time spinner claiming 4-79, walked away for two.

Ravindra Jadeja foxed Johnny Bairstow (10) by first spinning one past the bat and then following it with a delivery that pitched on the same spot but went straight.

Bairstow, expecting it to turn, did not offer any shot and looked in horror as the ball went on to disturb his stumps.

Ashwin dismissed Ben Stokes for the 12th time in tests, for six, with a flighted delivery that beat the pad and hit the off-stump.

Pope, dropped on 110 by Axar Patel, combined with Ben Foakes in a century stand for the sixth wicket.

India bowling coach Paras Mhambrey had no doubt that his side's batters would chase down any target on a pitch which he expected to get easier for batting.

"It's not the usual turn on Indian sub-continent where as the game progresses, there's sharp turn," Mhambrey said.

"But yeah, first thing first, we want to get them out as quickly as possible."

Brief scores

India: 436 all out

England: 246 all out and 316-6

England lead India by 126 runs with 4 wickets remaining


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