HYDERABAD: Ollie Pope’s magnificent knock came to an end on 196 as England have now set India a target of 231 runs after folding their second innings at 420 in 102.1 overs on day four of the first Test at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on Sunday.
England were in trouble at 163/5 and Pope, the vice-captain, stepped in to play one of the greatest innings by any batter from his country in Test matches in India. He used the sweep to a very good effect, dismantling the Indian spinners in an attacking fashion to his 21 boundaries in his 278-ball vigil at the crease.
He also stitched three crucial partnerships of 112, 64 and 80 with Ben Foakes, Rehan Ahmed and Tom Hartley respectively. Due to Pope, England ensured the Indian spirits remained low in the morning session on day four as they added 104 runs, giving themselves a chance of pulling off an unlikely win.
In the second over of the first session, Pope took a single past point off Jasprit Bumrah to bring up his 150, as he and Rehan Ahmed continued to swell the lead. Despite the new ball being made available, India chose to stick with the old ball and that paid off as Bumrah used reverse swing to take Rehan’s outside edge behind to KS Bharat.
Pope and Tom Hartley continued to take singles and boundaries off the spinners as India struggled to make a breakthrough. Even after taking the new ball in the 89th over, boundaries were still flowing as Hartley lofted off Ashwin for a boundary.
India's bowlers didn’t look threatening and were unable to stop the run-flow, as well as give easy singles as the Pope-Hartley stand raised their fifty. Pope was given a reprieve at 186 when KL Rahul dropped his catch at slip off Mohammed Siraj, with Hartley continuing to find boundaries.
The partnership was brought to a halt by Ashwin, who castled Hartley with the one which stayed low. Jadeja came back to have the inside edge of Mark Wood caught behind by Bharat and in the next over, Pope shaped for a reverse-scoop, but he missed a slower ball from Jasprit Bumrah to hit the top of off-stump.
India now have five sessions in hand to chase down 231, especially with only five successful chases happening previously in the fourth innings, and the most recent instance of it coming against New Zealand at Bengaluru in 2012.
England, though, have an inexperienced bowling line-up, especially with Leach carrying a left knee injury. But they will certainly take a lot of inspiration from a fine second innings with the bat, and Pope leading the way for it with a knock for ages.
Brief Scores: England 246 and 420 in 102.1 overs (Ollie Pope 196; Ben Duckett 47; Jasprit Bumrah 4-41, Ravichandran Ashwin 3-126) lead India 436 in 121 overs by 230 runs