Ollie Pope gives England hope with 'truly phenomenal' century against India in first Test

No 3 reaches 148 not out on Day 3 in Hyderabad to keep visitors in match

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Ollie Pope led the resistance with a brilliant, battling century as England fought hard to keep the first Test against India alive in Hyderabad.

Faced with the unenviable task of overturning a 190-run first-innings deficit, the vice-captain dug deep to make an unbeaten 148 as his side found their way to 316-6 at stumps on Day 3.

While the tourists still have plenty of work ahead of them to turn the pressure fully back on India, they showed admirable steel to build a lead of 126 with four wickets still in hand.

“It was a brilliant day of cricket for us,” England batter Joe Root said. “The way we played and went about it from the very beginning – we were very clinical with the ball and didn't let them capitalise on what they did yesterday.

“The way Ollie played was an absolute masterclass on how to bat in this part of the world. It was truly phenomenal.

“He consistently made the right decisions under pressure, in the big moments in a big game. We are all so chuffed for him to lay a marker down like that early in the series, to get us back into the series.

“We're going to keep playing how we play. Ollie recognised certain situations throughout the game, he managed the reverse swing but also was able to manipulate the field and pick it up when he had to as well.”

Root has long been England’s standard-bearer in Asia, where he has scored five centuries, but suggested the torch has now been passed on.

“I think that’s the benchmark,” he said. “I might have scored a few runs in the sub-continent but not on a surface like that, against an attack like that."

Pope’s fifth Test hundred marked a welcome return after six months out following surgery on a dislocated shoulder.

The Surrey batter had looked short of rhythm when he was dismissed for just one on Day 1 and started sketchily again but quickly grew in stature.

Having bounded along to his half-century in just 54 deliveries, Pope took 100 more to reach three figures and his magnificent 148 came off 208 balls, containing 17 fours.

Earlier, India had began the day on 421-7 and were mopped up efficiently for the addition of just 15 runs.

Root snapped up two in two balls, Ravindra Jadeja lbw for 87 and Jasprit Bumrah for a golden duck as he finished with figures of 4-79. Rehan Ahmed provided the finishing touch when he zipped one low through Axar Patel.

If India losing three wickets without a run caused jitters in the away dressing room they were not evident in a dashing opening stand of 45 between Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett.

Crawley reverse swept with authority and lifted Patel down the ground for six, but was gone for 31, nicking Ravichandran Ashwin to slip.

England took lunch at 89-1 and were up to 113 when a masterful spell of reverse swing from Bumrah cut their fightback down.

He found the gap that Duckett’s lavish drive left and sent his off stump flying for 47, while Root followed after just six balls, trapped in front for two by another that tailed in and thudded his front pad.

It was credit to Pope that he not only survived it but also kept his score moving, picking off boundaries and topping them up with hard running between the wickets.

He needed a partner to help after losing Jonny Bairstow for 10, offering no shot to Jadeja’s arm ball, and then saw Ashwin snake one past Stokes’ outside edge and into the top of off. It was the 12th time in Tests that the spinner has dismissed the England captain.

The scoreboard had looked ominous at 163-5, India still 27 ahead, but Pope and Foakes gritted their teeth in a partnership worth 112, knuckling down to turn that into a workable lead.

Pope's performance left India scratching their heads as they tried to pin him down and he scrambled three off Jadeja to reach a hard-won hundred, his first in the second innings and third overseas.

Inida might be made to pay further for dropping Pope on 110 off Jadeja, with Patel putting down a regulation chance off yet another reverse sweep.

Patel at least made amends by bowling Foakes for 34 runs but Pope and Ahmed (16 not out) saw England through to stumps.

Despite Pope's heroics, India bowling coach Paras Mhambrey remains confident that his side can chase down any target on a pitch which he expected to get easier for batting.

“It's not the usual turn on Indian subcontinent 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.”

Updated: January 27, 2024, 1:28 PM