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regular-article-logo Saturday, 15 June 2024

India vs England: Given long rope, Ollie Pope dashes hope

He proved that he’s someone England can rely on to bolster their middle order

Sayak Banerjee Published 04.09.21, 01:26 AM
England’s Ollie Pope during his 159-ball 81 on Day II of the fourth Test against India at The Oval on Friday.

England’s Ollie Pope during his 159-ball 81 on Day II of the fourth Test against India at The Oval on Friday. Getty Images

Expecting the bowlers to bail the team out of trouble does not work every time and Team India learnt that on Friday.

The India bowlers reduced England to 62/5 inside the first hour but Virat Kohli’s men still couldn’t stop the hosts from taking a first innings lead of 99 runs on Day II of the fourth Test at The Oval in London. That is what happens when a team scores just 191 on a track quite helpful for strokeplay.

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England’s first innings finished on 290, courtesy significant contributions from comeback-men Ollie Pope (81) and Chris Woakes (50). In their second innings, India were 43/0 at stumps on Friday, still trailing by 56.

Openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul, the standout batsmen for India on the tour, managed to survive the tricky last hour. Rohit, though, had a stroke of luck when Rory Burns made a mess of an edge at slip off James Anderson’s bowling. Rohit was only on 6 at that point.

Going back to England’s innings, two partnerships that helped them edge ahead were the 89 Pope stitched with Jonny Bairstow for the sixth wicket, followed by the 71-run stand between him and Moeen Ali.

Regardless of how he fared on rank turners in India earlier this year, in home conditions, Pope proved he’s someone England can rely on to bolster their middle order. All-rounder Woakes’s cameo at No.9 was equally important as he scored a fair amount of his runs batting with the tail.

Fine first hour

The morning certainly began well for India as they took little time to remove overnight batsmen Craig Overton and Dawid Malan. Umesh Yadav seemed to have vindicated the team management’s decision to bring him in for Mohammed Shami, dismissing both batters.

At that point, India had every reason to feel optimistic.

Wayward bowling

But just after the hour mark of the day’s opening session, Pope and Bairstow hit 10 boundaries in a space of only five-six overs that gave England some momentum. That 45-minute period before lunch swung it England’s way despite Jasprit Bumrah bowling a probing length for most part of the day.

Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur weren’t consistent enough with their lengths. Neither was Umesh. Did India miss a trick by not including Ravichandran Ashwin?

Umesh’s feat

Umesh Yadav became the 16th Indian bowler and sixth pacer to claim 150 or more wickets in Test cricket. The following is the list of Indian pacers with 150-plus wickets in Tests:

⚫ 434 wkts in 131 Tests: Kapil Dev (achieved 150 wkts in 39 Tests)

⚫ 311 wkts in 92 Tests: Zaheer Khan (in 49 Tests)

⚫ 311 wkts in 104 Tests: Ishant Sharma (in 54 Tests)

⚫ 236 wkts in 67 Tests: Javagal Srinath (in 40 Tests)

⚫ 195 wkts in 54 Tests: Mohammed Shami (in 42 Tests)

⚫ 151 wkts in 49* Tests: Umesh Yadav (in 49 Tests)

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