Hyderabad, Jan 27: England’s premier batter Joe Root lauded Ollie Pope for his stunning 148 not out on Day Three of the first Test against India, saying the number three batter had played out a masterclass in how to bat on pitches in the country.
At the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium here on Saturday, Pope slammed his fifth Test century and first in India to pull England out of trouble and help them take a lead of 126 runs at the end of day three’s play.
Pope, who made just one in England’s first innings, stood up amidst a fightback from India to hit an unbeaten 148, laced with 17 boundaries, leading England to 316/6 in 77 overs, the first time a visiting team has scored 300 in the second innings of a Test match in India since Nagpur 2012.
“A couple of us couldn’t manage to get through a very tricky phase when it was reversing but a good partnership and the way Popey played was an absolute masterclass in how to play in this part of the world.”
“In big moments and big games, coming back from injury to play an innings like that as vice-captain. We are all so chuffed for him. He’s phenomenal. We all know how good a player he is. To lay a marker like that down early in the series to get us back in the game, we’re stoked for him,” said Root to broadcasters.
With the pitch going slower and slower, it meant the batters had time to adjust their strokeplay against the bowlers. Pope hugely benefitted from it by blunting the spinners with good use of his feet and wrists, survived a fiery Jasprit Bumrah spell, and executed the conventional sweep and reverse sweep to good effect to play one of his best knocks in Test cricket.
Opener Zak Crawley was also in praise of Pope’s resilient knock. “We're happy, unbelievable knock by Ollie. With a few more runs in the morning, it could be a tricky chase. We can learn a lot from Ollie. It was something we have grown up with (playing sweep and reverse sweep), it's a nice way to put them off their lengths. We would have taken this for sure, another 45-50 runs, it could be a tricky chase for them.”
Apart from Pope messing the line and length of the Indian spinners with his proactive-ness, the opening pair of Crawley and Ben Duckett set the tone for England’s much better showing in the second innings with a fine 45-run opening stand. Root felt it was a brilliant day of Test cricket for England.
“A brilliant day’s cricket for England. The way that we’ve gone about it from the start. We were very clinical with the ball and made it very difficult for them to capitalise on what they did yesterday. And that opening stand, to get us off to that start in very tricky conditions. We could have easily lost a couple of wickets but they’ve been so good for us (Duckett and Crawley) over the past couple of years.”
Speaking of his opening partnership before being taken out by Ashwin, Crawley said, “Bat like the first innings, the batters did that really well, very pleased. He bowled a nice ball today, he's allowed to do that. nothing changes for me. He (Rehan Ahmed) is an amazing talent, he's very confident as well, hopefully, he can get some runs in the morning.”
Before Root surpassed Ricky Ponting to become the highest run-scorer in Tests against India, he was the pick of the bowlers for England with figures of 4-79. He said the pitch was good to bowl on in the morning and believes the happenings on day three will keep England in good stead for the rest of the tour.
“The pitch is nice to bowl on! For a part-timer like me to pick up four wickets, I think more than anything I’m pleased with how we finished things off this morning as a group. We want to ask good questions and try and find ways of taking wickets. Everything we’ve done today will stand us in good stead not only here but in this series.”
“It’s a long old slog, there’s going to be lots of ups and downs. It’s nice to be in this position and it shows a lot about our mentality and where we are. We’re never out of the game and we always try to get in a winning position and then go on and win it.” (IANS)